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Saida Ali

Living in: Nairobi, Kenya
Nationality: Kenyan


Saida has lived a 19- year journey of innovative programming, uplifting people, building organisations and coalitions, trusting relationships and shaping the conditions for social justice. As an advocacy strategist she has steered and mentored, delivering indelible results at national and UN levels. She has over 12 years’ experience of leading social justice strategies.

Saida has held a number of senior level programme management and governance/ advisory roles. She has built considerable expertise in designing, implementation and evaluation of socio-economic and gender justice programmes; spanning policy analysis and oversight, humanitarian, resilience and long-term development. She has worked at national, regional and global levels.

When Saida was 23 years old, she co-founded the Young Women’s Leadership Institute (YWLI), an organisation that works to empower young women and adolescent girls. Later she worked as the executive director of the Coalition on Violence Against Women (COVAW), an organisation that works towards elimination of all forms of violence against women in Kenya. She has, over the years, built a wealth of experience in providing leadership and guidance to programme teams, providing strategic leadership for organisational effectiveness and strengthening the capacity and core competencies of staff, particularly in key issues such as gender justice, sexual and reproductive health and rights, inclusive governance and addressing inequalities.

Throughout her career Saida has focussed on strategy development and capacity building for communities, partners and government institutions, ensuring the successful implementation of holistic programmes.


Personal Statement

I am a coalition builder, driven by courage and commitment to better the lives of women and girls, especially in Africa. I started my activism on ending violence against women and girls at a young age; joining vigils, demonstrations and community outreach activities in different parts of Kenya. I have been a part of various campaigns including those on ending female genital mutilation (FGM) and other forms of violence against women and girls, calling for legal reform and addressing social, economic and cultural factors used to perpetuate violations of women’s and girls’ rights. I have grown in my career in social justice work – to be a human rights defender, a leader, and an advocacy strategist driven by my passion to ensure gender equality, the empowerment and human rights of women and girls. I am interested in the interlocking nature of gender from a sex –race - class perspective. “Gender” on its own - and certainly on matters of inequalities - is not the only determining factor to a woman’s or girl’s experience.

I believe working towards gender equality requires that all the systemic barriers and structural inequalities are tackled. I see patterns that entrench and maintain patriarchy beyond individual and household power relations, in private and public spheres. I am concerned about the current trends in security and migration and how they all intersect with race to create a world where individuals and whole communities can be further pushed to the periphery rather than enjoy being equal citizens of the world. As an Atlantic Fellow I have an opportunity to delve deep into the analysis of the interwoven systemic issues of neoliberalism, fundamentalisms, militarism, racism and patriarchy as systemic drivers of gender, and other forms of, inequality.

This is an opportunity to grow in my capacity to contribute to addressing one of the greatest challenges facing humanity today – inequalities. My passion, commitment and sharp analysis on various issues affecting women and girls in Africa is what I bring to the program. In turn I am looking forward to learn and continue working to better the lives of women and girls in Africa.  I am excited about being one of the Atlantic Fellows.