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Rise & Thrive: Empowering East African Youth through Education

May 30 @ 5:30 pm - 7:30 pm EDT

Join AKFC and Canada-Mathare Education Trust on May 30 to explore innovative solutions for gender equity in education!

Education has the power to shape the course of a person’s life. But access to this fundamental human right is often threatened by harmful gender norms, fragile institutions, and other systemic barriers. This is especially true for girls living in vulnerable communities. Addressing these challenges requires the cultivation of inclusive, resilient, and adaptive learning environments.

Join AKFC and Canada-Mathare Education Trust on May 30 as we embark on an exploration of innovative approaches, challenges, and triumphs in promoting educational access for girls, in East Africa and beyond. We’ll discuss the role of Canadian cooperation in expanding gender-equitable education and skill-building opportunities for youth in the region.

Be a changemaker. Join us at Rise & Thrive and be inspired to advance gender equity and access to education.

Key Information for Attendees:

  • When you register, please indicate whether you are interested in attending in-person at the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat or online (Zoom) by selecting the relevant ticket option.
  • In-person attendees are welcome to arrive by 5:30 p.m. EDT to network and enjoy light refreshments.
  • This event will be offered in English only

For accommodation requests, accessibility inquiries, or any other questions, please contact us at [email protected].


Cheryl Urban

Global Affairs Canada Assistant Deputy Minister, Sub-Saharan Africa

Cheryl Urban has been with Global Affairs Canada since 2010. Before assuming the position of Assistant Deputy Minister for Sub-Saharan Africa in July 2023, she was Director General for Economic Development, leading the department’s engagement with international financial institutions and policy in the areas of economic growth and governance. Prior to this, Ms. Urban served as the Director General of South America and Inter-American Affairs, where she oversaw Canada’s bilateral trade, political, and development cooperation relationship with countries in South America, and provided direction to Canada’s permanent mission to the Organization of American States. In this capacity, she led Canada’ strategic engagement on the Venezuela crisis.

Within Global Affairs Canada, Ms. Urban has also held the positions of Director General of Corporate Planning, Performance and Risk Management; Program Director, Southeast Asia; and Policy Director with the Afghanistan Task Force. Her time on the Afghanistan Task Force included field assignments in Kabul and Kandahar.

Jane Rarieya

Dean, Institute for Educational Development, East Africa (IED-EA)

An accomplished leader with more than a decade of experience in higher education, Professor Rarieya has served as the Interim Dean of IED-EA since November 2021. Throughout her career, her research interests have focused on gender, educational leadership, and faculty development. Professor Rarieya holds an Executive Doctorate in Gender in Educational Management from Keele University (UK) and a Master’s in Teaching Education from the Aga Khan University (Pakistan). She maintains an active research portfolio, sits on several editorial boards, and has numerous publications in peer reviewed journals.

Active in service, Professor Rarieya is a fellow of the Commonwealth Centre for Education at Cambridge University, UK and a Trustee for Children in Freedom Trust, UK. She is also a member of the Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE) and a member of the Fellowship and Accreditation Expert Advisory Group of the Advance HE, UK. In 2020, Professor Rarieya was named Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (SFHEA) for demonstrating excellence in teaching.

Jennifer Elms

Regional Gender Equality Advisor North America, AKFC

Jennifer Elms (she/her/elle) is an international gender and development specialist with more than a decade of leadership experience across private, public, and social sectors throughout East Africa, Southeast Asia, Australasia, Europe, and North America. She is the Regional Gender Equality Advisor for AKFC and AKFUSA.

Jennifer has provided strategic leadership for INGOs focusing on women’s social and economic empowerment, gender-responsive education and early childhood learning systems, and prevention of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV). She is passionate about intersectional, innovative, and sustainable gender-transformative approaches, with particular focus on climate.

Jennifer earned a Master of Human Rights and Democratization from University of Sydney (Australia) and a Bachelor of Arts (Joint Majors Psychology and English Literature) from Memorial University of Newfoundland.

When not working, Jennifer can be found playing basketball, writing, or telling cheesy jokes. Jennifer shares her journey with her white water rafting and life partner, Hassan, and their two children.

Victoria Anyango Ochieng

Canada-Mathare Education Trust Scholar

Victoria Anyango Ochieng is a passionate storyteller, social entrepreneur, and advocate for gender equality and education from Mathare, Kenya. Her passion lies in exploring the intersection between economic policies, accessibility to education, gender dynamics, and social mobility. She has co-founded ConfidenceInRed, a menstrual hygiene program that employs dialogue forums and strategic community-led interventions to address menstrual poverty and teenage pregnancy in the Ruaraka sub-county.

Victoria is a post-secondary scholar at Canada Mathare Education Trust and an Asumbi Girls’ High School alumna. She won a full scholarship to Davidson College where she is currently pursuing her Bachelor’s in Economics and Sociology. She is a recipient of the Davidson Distinguished Scholar Award, the Davidson College Leadership in Service Award, and the Bonner Civic Engagement Scholarship, among many others. Currently, she is working on Teens4Teens, a community project aimed at empowering and training young people in her village to become health educators and to address the prevalence of teenage pregnancies.

She is the first-born in a family of four, and having been raised by a single mother, Victoria relates and understands firsthand the challenges faced by young girls and women in socioeconomically disadvantaged communities like Mathare.

With remarks from Anita Vandenbeld

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Development

Register Today!



Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat
199 Sussex Drive
Ottawa, ON K1N 1K6 Canada


Aga Khan Foundation Canada
Canada-Mathare Education Trust