The Aspen Institute announced today the 2019 class of the New Voices Fellowship, a groundbreaking program designed to equip experts from developing countries to play a more powerful role as advocates and experts in the global development discussion.
Joining the fellowship is Wendo Aszed, the founder of a grassroots organization, Dandelion Africa, based in Mogotio, Kenya, which focuses on women’s health economic empowerment. A former bank executive, she dedicated herself to the welfare of women in rural areas, after her best friend died of HIV-related disease. Along with economic and skills-training, Dandelion Africa provides health information to youths in and out of schools and is constructing a maternity clinic. “I believe that we should tell our stories of triumph and not focus on the misery of life,” she said. “There is so much more to us than economic poverty, because we have been to those dark places and we have seen those light places, and where we are going is so much more than where we have been.”
With help from the New Voices Fellowship, Wendo and 24 other development experts will have the chance to redefine development narratives over the course of the next 12 months.
The 2019 class also marks the start of a new, three-year Aspen initiative for Fellows who focus on sexual and reproductive health and rights. Ten of this year’s 25 New Voices Fellows are experts on different aspects of this crucial issue, including an Egyptian doctor who focuses on preventing gender-based violence, an Ethiopian public health advocate whose organization teaches teenage brides about family planning, and a Kenyan human rights lawyer who works on cases involving safe abortion and forced sterilization.
“We’re honored to welcome this inaugural class of Fellows who bring a vast array of lived and learned expertise that deepen our understanding of sexual and reproductive health and rights around the world,” Fellowship Associate Director Emily Kaiser said. “Sexual and reproductive health and rights are central to achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, and these Fellows bring new ideas that can transform discussions and shape real-world actions.”
The 2019 New Voices class also includes 15 leading public health specialists, doctors, scientists, social entrepreneurs and policy experts who work on issues including food security, infectious disease, education and climate change. Altogether, the 2019 class represents 17 countries across Africa, Latin America, and Asia, making it the most diverse Fellowship class yet.
The full list of 2019 Fellows and descriptions of their work can be found on the Aspen New Voices website.
“We are very excited to expand New Voices this year,” Fellowship Director Andrew Quinn said. “These are the experts and advocates who hold the key to our global future and will be crucial sources of both information and inspiration as we take on the world’s biggest development challenges.”