Dara Lipton

Dara Lipton (Vital Voices- Kenyan Association of Women Business Owners - KAWBO): Before her fellowship, Dara served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Uzbekistan and Suriname. In Uzbekistan she worked at a community health clinic. In Suriname she worked with a women’s group. Dara then returned to Suriname to train Peace Corps Volunteers. At the time of her fellowship Dara was pursuing her MA in International Relations with a concentration in sustainable development in Africa at Yale University. After her fellowship, Dara wrote: "This fellowship has helped me to understand many of the academic and theoretical concepts that I learned in school in a more realistic and practical setting. This has given me increased confidence and a level of comfort in development discussions that I didn’t previously have."

a pageant tangent

14 Jul

I had the unique opportunity 2 nights ago to observe and lend a hand to the Miss World Kenya competition.  The contestants are aged 18-25 and they were selected from over 3000 applicants to represent their country in hopes of eventually becoming Miss World 2010.

They are all beautiful at the cusp of fame and international notoriety.

In contrast to previous years, the Miss World Kenya competition of 2010 is modeled off of American pageants; girls will not be judged on looks alone but on their personalities, their work ethic, and their ability to be a team player.  Contestants are expected to choose a social issue that they would advocate for if selected as Miss Kenya, and they are trained on the values of poise, cultural respect and civic responsibility.

The organizers of the event are motivated to create something new—not just a singular event that produces a Miss World competitor, but a culture of confident young women and a community of socially responsible peer leaders.

I have decided, as long as I continue to have the permission of the pageant organizers, to incorporate profiles of the pageant and it’s contestants with my broader advocacy work. The 20 remaining contestants (2 are eliminated each week) are representative of all regions of Kenya.  Many of them had never been to Nairobi before this competition and as of last week and for the remaining month they will be living together in a house and starring in a reality show about the competition.

I walked in as a stranger and I was amazed at the extent to which they welcomed me into their community; the contestants, the organizers, even the make-up artists and hair stylist were generous enough to let me interrupt their work with questions and photographs.

I look forward to following their stories, I hope you will too.

Posted By Dara Lipton

Posted Jul 14th, 2010


  • sherry deren

    July 14, 2010


    what a wonderful combination… to explore and follow the lives of successful Kenyan businesswomen and of Miss Kenya competitors… all powerful women who have the potential to do great things for themselves and their larger communities. I look forward to reading more about them.

  • iain

    July 16, 2010


    This is so interesting. But I have to ask: why do these young women feel that they want to get into such a vainglorious business?! I’ve always found this particular Western export rather distasteful. I’d be happy if you could change my mind!

  • Amy Lipton

    July 19, 2010


    Hi Dara, I hope you will have an opportunity to introduce some of the pageant contestants to your KAWBO business leaders. They would make wonderful role models and mentors for this group of young women. Keep up the great work. I am enjoying your blog!

  • Kerry McBroom

    July 20, 2010


    Great pictures, Dara!

    I hope you’re having a wonderful time.

    Take care!

  • Wycliffe Muga

    August 18, 2010


    Everything here is perfect.The ladies are great and wish them all the best.

    I can’t belive we have such beutiful and hardworking ladies in Kenya.

    Good job Dara.

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