Meet 2019 Dalai Lama Fellow Esther Ajari

Featured Story


Meet 2019 Dalai Lama Fellow Esther Ajari

2019 Fellow Esther Ajari, one of sixteen children born into a polygamous family in Nigeria, was raised to believe that women are inferior to men. Despite challenging gender barriers, Ajari cultivated the resilience and determination to attend medical school, where she is now studying to become a doctor. She now has an inextinguishable passion for empowering more girls to succeed in school and as women in a patriarchal society and says:
I believe in a world where girls like me will no longer be told to just sit still and look pretty. I believe a day will come when girls will be liberated from the shackles of unfavorable societal expectations and get to make a choice in every matter affecting their lives. I believe in a society where girls will have equal access to academic and economic opportunities like boys do.
A significant deterrent for many girls attending school is a lack of access to affordable sanitary pads during menstruation. To address this issue, Ajari is working on a way for female students to make their own biodegradable sanitary pads, which when properly washed and stored, can be reused for up to 12 months to 3 years. With her Dalai Lama Fellows project Ajari’s larger mission is to encourage teachers and parents to also get engaged as a way to build a community of champions for girls' education.

Watch the video about Dalai Lama Fellows.

Read the UVA Today story

Dalai Lama Fellows website