“Empowering people, especially the marginalized, is what motivates me.”

Millicent is a Master’s graduate in Medical and Veterinary Entomology from the University of Nairobi. She has worked in marginalized communities as a volunteer graduate assistant.

Apart from supporting and strengthening education outcomes in the community, she participated in community sensitization programs addressing hunger and food insecurities.

When the founder of Action10 and HR&S, Cecilia Öman, came to the University of Nairobi to hold a Research management workshop, Millicent noted that they shared common values, goals, and interests. That´s how their collaboration started!

Millicent, team leader at RISE centre in Kenya

I believe a paradigm shift will occur because there will be more opportunities for women all around that they can harness regardless of their level of education or social economic status.

As our coach, Millicent helps design programmes in Kenya and perform evaluation planning, works with stakeholder analysis and stakeholder management, develops and implements business plans, collects information from surveys, and develops the annual programme report.

About empowering women in Africa, challenges, and motivations

Name, age, and where are you from?

My name is Millicent Sifuna. My origins are in Kenya. At the moment, I live in Nairobi, Kenya.

What do you do for a living?

I recently completed my master’s degree in Medical Entomology. Malaria and arboviruses are two of my main research interests. I’d like to begin my Ph.D. studies as soon as possible. All of this is due to my strong interest in research.

Is there an issue related to the empowerment of women that is particularly important to you?

Yes. Women face obstacles in Africa and around the world when it comes to pursuing a professional career, particularly in research. The path taken is riddled with obstacles of various kinds. One challenge many women face all over the world is the ability to balance motherhood and career.

Most women in Africa feel that they cannot do both effectively. She either has to stay home and take care of the children or hire a house help. House helps can sometimes disappoint and, in such cases, knowing that a crèche is available at work is a great resource. 

I am convinced that women’s empowerment requires access to resources as well as the ability and willingness to mobilize them, and I believe it is possible. In addition, women in Africa receive a less formal education, and their knowledge and coping mechanisms are frequently unrecognized.

What challenges do you face related to your work?

As the team leader at RISE Centre Kenya, I sometimes struggle with dealing with the challenges that come with change. I need to understand how things will change, plan for it, and account for the consequences. I’m always on the lookout for ways to reassure teams when things are uncertain and bring people along for the ride when they’re resistant to change, all while maintaining consistency and clarity.

What motivates you?

Empowering people, especially the marginalized, is what motivates me. I relish the opportunity to reach out to such people while making a difference and interacting with a vast majority. I would love to use my research background in vector-borne diseases, a big problem in Africa, to empower people to live disease-free and healthy lives.

Is there anything the international community can do to assist in the empowerment of women where you live?

Yes. In collaboration with local governments self-help groups, churches, and NGOs, the international community can promote women’s potential through education/training and skill development, thus improving women’s skill set and ability to earn income and achieve economic self-reliance.

Through self-awareness, discovering abilities, and potential, I believe a paradigm shift will occur because there will be more opportunities for women all around that they can harness regardless of their level of education or social-economic status.

Learn more about our programmes

Read more about our programmes in Kenya and other Sub-Saharan African countries.

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