International Women's Day: 3 young women leading change

To celebrate International Women’s Day we’re showcasing young activists who have made the transition from girls, to girls’ rights defenders.  If you’re not convinced that young people can lead change – keep reading…

Mathilde, UK

Mathilde is a girls’ rights activist and a member of Girlguiding’s Advocate Panel and part of the Youth For Change UK Coalition. She campaigns and works with girls on a range of issues, and truly believes in the power of young people to create change.

Mathilde, Girlguiding advocate

Since September 2014 I’ve been a member of Girlguiding’s Advocate panel. The Advocates are a group of Girlguiding members aged 14-25 who discuss the issues girls care about and seek change. They talk about body confidence, representation of girls and women in the media, education, teenage mental health, role models for girls…and loads more!

By being a Girlguiding Advocate I have been lucky enough to get involved in loads of different types of activism from getting girls and women into politics at events like Feminism in London to discussing FGM (Female Genital Mutilation) at the African Initiatives annual conference.

These two themes are what I concentrate on at the moment and have led me to getting involved with other groups such as Youth For Change UK. Girlguiding is a UK Coalition member so I have had the opportunity to attend one of their meetings and be involved with a consultation with the Department for International Development and Baroness Verma, who is the Ministerial Champion for tackling Violence Against Women and Girls.

It is very easy to get involved in the fight for girls’ and women’s rights, all you need to do is say, or even just think ‘girls’ and women’s rights are human rights’

It is very easy to get involved in the fight for girls’ and women’s rights, all you need to do is say, or even just think ‘girls' and women’s rights are human rights’. There is a secret that more people are learning about daily: Young people are great, we are a huge resource and often have that extra bit of time or slightly different outlook that can be so vital when campaigning.

Hirut, Ethiopia

Hirut is a young activist based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. She’s a member of Youth For Change Ethiopia and is currently working with Girl Effect. She's passionate about tackling gender-based violence and bringing an end to harmful traditional practices that hold girls back worldwide.

Hirut

I’ve seen girls with huge potential becoming victims of FGM and early marriage, and driven into inter-generational poverty. My country is a relatively poor country but with huge ambition. To get out of this inter-generational poverty, we need to invest in girls and make sure they are not victims of GBV, but rather able, skilled members of the community.

As an activist, my proudest moment was when the government of Ethiopia publicly announced to end FGM and early marriage by 2020 at the London Girl Summit in 2014.

Young people need to be role models for other young people and motivate girls, boys and family to say no to FGM.

The youth need to lobby for their rights - most girls become subject to FGM and early marriage at a young age. Young people need to be role models for other young people and motivate girls, boys and family to say no to FGM. 

Rebecca, Tanzania

Rebecca is a girls’ rights activist currently campaigning with Tanzania’s “Msichana Initiative”, part of the Youth For Change Tanzania coalition, to tackle child marriage. She’s also worked on a whole range of other issues affecting girls, such as sexual reproductive health & rights and life skills.

Rebecca Gyumi

I’m passionate about girls and women rights. Through our registered non-governmental organization Msichana Initiative, I advocate for girls right to education and self-determination. We are keen to address the key challenges which limit Tanzanian girl child to realize her full potential. We have filed a petition at Tanzania High Court to challenge Tanzania Marriage Act which allow girl child to be married at 14 (with court leave) and 15 (with parental consent).

My proudest moment was last year near elections in Tanzania, when I successfully worked in a collaborative effort to produce season 11th of Fema TV Show, which was all about empowering girls, with amazing 4 other young women.  The season aimed at inspiring and motivating young women to actively participate in all electoral processes in Tanzania. Although it’s hard to say if it was solely a result of our campaign, but for sure Tanzania witnessed “girl power” during registering and voting.

I believe in the multiplier effect of investing in young women. Tanzania largest population is women and girls. A country will not attain its full economic potential, if it has not invested in its largest population.

Young people can individually pledge to be advocate for change, promote and stand for gender parity in their home settings, schools, and in the social media. Every small action counts.

Young people constitute the largest age group in Tanzania. We are the future mothers, fathers and potential political, community and religious leaders. If we are to end vicious circle of gender inequalities, we have to involve the next generation of parents and community leaders. Young people can individually pledge to be advocates for change, promote and stand for gender parity in their home settings, schools, and in the social media. Every small action counts. 

Find out more about International Women's Day


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