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Interview with Valerie Loloju - Kenya - (She/Her): A New Voice at CYGEN - Campaign Lead Executive Committee Member.

This interview is held with Eman Borg (He/Him) - CYGEN Coordinator.

Eman Borg: Valerie, it's wonderful to have you part of the CYGEN ExCo. Congratulations on your new role. How does it feel to be part of the leading team of such an influential network?

Valerie Loloju: Thank you! It's incredibly exciting and humbling to join CYGEN. Being part of a network that is dedicated to promoting gender equality across the Commonwealth is a dream come true. It aligns perfectly with my passion and the work I've been doing in sexual and reproductive health rights.

Eman: Speaking of dreams, can you share with us your million-dollar dream?

Valerie: Absolutely. My million-dollar dream is a space in time when the expertise and voices of young people are received and treated with the weight and significance they carry. I envision a world where the ability of young people to influence change is globally recognized and invested in. Young people have so much to offer, and their contributions are invaluable.

Eman: That's a powerful vision. On a lighter note, what's your favorite ice cream flavor?

Valerie: Neapolitan. I love the combination of chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry. It's a classic!

Eman: It certainly is! Now, who has been your biggest inspiration in your journey so far, and why?

Valerie: My biggest inspiration is Dr. Josephine Kulea. She champions the rights of women and girls in my community and is globally recognized for her efforts. Dr. Kulea shows up and expresses herself authentically in the work she does. She has challenged harmful cultural norms within our community and faced criticism, but she soldiers on. Her resilience and commitment are truly inspiring.

Eman:  Dr. Kulea sounds incredible. Can you tell us a bit about your background and the path that led you to where you are today?

Valerie: Certainly. I am a sexual and reproductive health rights expert and the Co-Founder of the Oloip programme. Currently, I serve as the Assistant National Coordinator at the Youth Anti-FGM Network. I hold a degree in public health and am pursuing a master's in public health, specializing in sexual and reproductive health rights. My work focuses on family planning, gender mainstreaming, and adolescent sexual and reproductive health advocacy. I've also contributed to developing localized policies that affect adolescents and young people in Kenya. Additionally, I am an alumnus of the Young African Leaders Initiative and the International Indigenous Women's Leadership Forum.

Eman: That's an impressive resume, Valerie. How do you see your role at CYGEN influencing your work and vice versa?

Valerie: Being part of CYGEN provides a broader platform to advocate for gender equality and amplify the voices of young people. I believe my background and experiences will bring a unique perspective to the network. In turn, the resources, connections, and collaborative opportunities at CYGEN will enhance my ability to make a tangible impact on gender equality issues, both locally and globally.

Eman: It's clear that you're passionate about your work and the change you want to see in the world. What message would you like to share with young people who aspire to make a difference?

Valerie:  I want young people to know that their voices matter. They have the power to create change and should never underestimate their potential. It’s important to stay true to your values, continue learning, and seek out supportive networks like CYGEN. Together, we can achieve incredible things.

Eman: Thank you, Valerie. It’s been inspiring talking to you. Best of luck with your new role at CYGEN!

Valerie: Thank you so much. I appreciate the opportunity to share my story.


The views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the Royal Commonwealth Society.

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