song written by Sarah Llewellyn
honored in partnership with United Nations Decade of Women and University of Wolverhampton
Kakenya Ntaiya is a Kenyan educator, feminist and social activist.
She is the founder and president of the Kakenya Center for Excellence, a primary boarding school for girls in the Maasai village of Enoosaen. The first class of 32 students enrolled in May 2009. The center requires that parents agree not to subject their enrolled daughters to genital mutilation or forced marriage.
Ntaiya is the eldest of eight children. Maasai tradition dictated that Ntaiya should be engaged around the age of five, undergo circumcision as a teenager, and then leave school to marry. Instead, she negotiated with her father that she would undergo circumcision if that meant she could continue her education and complete high school.
Ntiaya holds an undergraduate degree from Randolph-Macon Woman's College and has a Doctorate in Education from the University of Pittsburgh, where she was the recipient of the Sheth International Young Alumni Achievement Award.
Ntaiya is the recipient of a number of awards that recognize her work to educate girls: Vital Voices Global Leadership Award (2011), CNN Top Ten Hero of the Year (2013), and the Global Women's Rights Award from the Feminist Majority Foundation (2013).