To mark 16 Days of Activism, we're shining a spotlight on inspirational activists from around the world. Onward Chironda is the Executive Director and Founder of an organisation called My Age Zimbabwe. They operate in Zimbabwe and work with young people around issues of child marriage, sexual & reproductive health services and gender-based violence.
For me, to be an activism means being there for other young people and making sure the voices of young people are represented at different platforms, and that there’s meaningful youth participation in the issues that concern them.
It’s about getting to know the issues that young women face in their communities and making sure they have a space to speak out about the issues that they’re facing - that is, child marriage, female genital mutilation (FGM), access to information and services on sexual and reproductive health, talking about contraceptives, HIV testing & counselling (HTC) services and other different services that young women need.
I think in the patriarchal African society we see that most of the time men are the perpetrators of violence against women. You look at child marriages, it’s always men against young women.
So the role of men is making sure that if they’re taking leadership in communities, they should be making sure that they put young women first, and they should know that any development that will come, be it at community level, country level - it should be the young women that are at the centre.
Yes - change is not something that will come in one day, or in hours or weeks. But when you continue to engage you see that change will come. So I would say that what’s important is in terms of change is continued engagement with the powers that be.
As young people we should know the power that we have. There are issues around demographics in most of the countries in Africa - young people constitute around 50% of the population, which means we are the majority, we have the power.