Empowered, ambitious, and brave, Educate! graduate Abigail Chepkwurui is making waves for gender equity and driving change in her community.
"I have to become a Member of Parliament." For Abigail Chepkwurui, a twenty-year-old Educate! graduate from Eastern Uganda, this is a goal she's been actively working toward since before joining Educate!. "I'll campaign for 2026."
Abigail is an activist, a community mobilizer, an entrepreneur, and an Educate! Mentor. More than that, she is a young woman who overcame every obstacle in her path–poverty, familial and cultural expectations, gender norms, and access to education–to discover her voice and create the future she imagined for herself.
To achieve her dreams, Abigail had to stay in school, a challenge for a girl from Kween, a hilly, rural district near the Kenyan border. The culture she was raised in is known for cattle herding, farming, and rites of passage that consider limited education and early marriage the norm for women. She worked tirelessly at home, supporting her mother with housework and raising the other children, while also working at the family catering business and studying for her classes in every spare moment. Her father, watching this effort, asked Abigail: Wouldn't her life be easier if she left school and got married? Abigail refused. "I told my father, 'I know what I want. I want to be someone. The only way I can do this is to be educated.'"
Abigail pursued her interest in women's rights activism. She participated in female empowerment programs, including one debate where her team argued, and won, the topic, "should pregnant girls be able to continue in school?" (The cash prize of about $140 was enough to pay for her school fees.) She also traveled to Kampala to participate in an anti-female genital mutilation symposium led by the Speaker of Uganda's Parliament.
Learning to Lead
At school, Abigail was actively developing her leadership skills. She was elected for the student leadership position of Head Girl. Soon after, she was invited to become an Educate! Scholar. Abigail was hooked on the Educate! lessons from the start and saw immediately how gaining entrepreneurship and leadership skills could open a path for her to achieve her ambitious dreams.
Soon, Abigail was acting as both the President and Treasurer of the Educate! Student Business Club, while also managing one of their most profitable projects: making snack cakes. The business became so popular that the school administration invited the Student Business Club to sell the cakes to the entire student body during breakfast.
By the time she graduated from secondary school, Abigail was chosen to become an Educate! Mentor, was accepted to university in Kampala, and was a candidate for a competitive scholarship. She had also been invited to teach English and Literature at her school because of her exceptional exam scores (she was the highest scoring female student in the region). Abigail moved to Kampala to begin her undergraduate degree while simultaneously empowering youth as an Educate! Mentor.
"I know I'm a leader," says Abigail, who aims to drive policy change that will empower young women in Uganda. She hopes to systematize the education, coaching, and support she received throughout her life so that everyone has the opportunities that she did. "I've seen a lot and I know what the girl child lacks in my village," she says. "They still go through early marriages, they still circumcise them. Most especially, I feel girls should be supported—education-wise—because, in our village, they are not all that educated."
"Education gives you that brain, it makes you exposed. It makes you different. You'll come to realize it's not marriage that is important, but it is what you have to offer this world that is important."
For Abigail, Educate! was a catalyst to realizing her own gifts and strengths. It also provided the foundational skill set that would enable her to become a community mobilizer, a leader, a mentor, and inspiration for others.
Come 2026, we are excited to see Abigail show up confidently, ready to represent her community as a Member of Parliament and drive forward change for young women across Uganda.