My journey to empowerment

Regina Mugure Mwangi

Regina talks about how she uses her voice to amplify the experiences of other disabled young people.

I will not be left behind. I am committed to promoting the advancement of the lives of people with disabilities. I am one of them by experience and I have to get involved in changing the narrative.

Regina Mwangi speaking at a conference in front of a banner saying "Together we're breaking down barriers"

My name is Regina Mugure Mwangi, a former 2030 and Counting lead citizen reporter in Kenya. I was introduced to Leonard Cheshire by Fredrick Ouko. Fredrick is the Founder of the Action Network for the Disabled (ANDY). Before 2030 and Counting I had never been engaged in global advocacy. 

It was timely for me to expand my advocacy and disability awareness activities I had started at ANDY. As I had worked on a campaign trying to raise funds to educate children with disabilities in Kenya. 

Championing the rights of youths with disabilities

Being part of 2030 and Counting is among one of my biggest achievements in life, at least where championing for the rights of youths with disabilities is concerned. Through the project, we collected stories from fellow youths with disabilities. We focused on three themes — access to quality education, health and employment. All these themes link to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. 

The stories showed the extent of exclusion that disabled youths go through in Kenya. We used this evidence to advocate for sensitive and inclusive policies for disabled youth with the ministry of education. Calling for the inclusion of disabled youths in key decisions was, and still is, the clarion call to all leaders. The voices of youths with disabilities need to be heard. They deserve to be represented at all decision-making tables.

Visiting the BBC

I was also able to travel to London twice while working on the project. The first time was to receive citizen reporter training. Visiting the BBC headquarters after the training was my major highlight. As an aspiring journalist, I'd had my dreams shattered a couple of times by the naysayers. 

Being at the BBC was a turning point for me to stay focused on chasing after what I believed I could do. It reignited a fire within to keep the hope alive. Who knows, one day I might find myself there, not as a visitor, but as a journalist!

UK Parliament and the United Nations

The second time I went to London I had the opportunity to speak at a parliament event. I presented our key findings from 2030 and Counting. I also spoke about the need to have more projects that can help amplify the voice of disabled youth.

In June I went to New York for the United Nations Conference of the State Parties (COSP) to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). I spoke at two side events. One session was on 'Children with Disabilities Shall Not Be Left Behind'. We spoke about good practice as well as challenges in inclusive education. 

The other session was on the 'Empowerment of Youth with Disabilities through Technology, Partnerships and Intergenerational Dialogue'. I spoke to senior leaders and disability activists about how important technology was in 2030 and Counting. This was such a great opportunity that I will forever be thankful for.

Helping to increase the employment of people with disabilities

Since working on the project, I am now in a new role at Leonard Cheshire in Kenya. I am an Inclusion Officer for a new and innovative programme that seeks to help increase the employment of people with disabilities.

Matters of inclusion for people with disabilities are very close to my heart. As someone with a lived experience of disability, and having had a fair share of discrimination, I am passionate about inclusion. 

I will not be left behind. I am committed to promoting the advancement of the lives of people with disabilities. I am one of them by experience and I have to get involved in changing the narrative.