Her Liberty Namibia (HLN) is a young women-led non-profit organization aimed at empowering, developing and promoting women’s gender equality in Namibia. Co-founder Tikhala Itaye explains their vision and mission, and why it's so important for change to be youth-focused and youth-led.
We live in a world where every day we see girls and young women face different challenges. Whether they are social or economic challenges, those challenges place barriers for women and girls to fulfill their potential.
Her Liberty Namibia was established in November 2012, motivated to seek change for those that have been oppressed, discriminated and socially disadvantaged. Three young women - Tanya Daringo, Tikhala Itaye and Paskaline Ngunaihe - came together to spearhead a movement by working cooperatively on dynamic projects, issues and events that critically shape and involve young women and girls to act as impactful social catalystof change.
As a Co-founder of an NGO that strives to mentor and empower young women and girls socially and economically, I was deeply moved by the state of our society. I was not comfortable with that fact that I had access to education and opportunities that many other young girls and women do not have. So along with my co-founders, we decided to do something about it.
For the past 3 years, I have had first-hand experience on the hardships that my fellow young women and girls face…It’s not easy being a young women when culture has taught you to stay at home and do house chores, or that being in an abusive relationship is okay because the man will take care of you because you are stuck in a poverty stricken environment. It’s not easy being a young woman when I fall pregnant while still in school and I have to drop out because I don’t have a support structure that encourages me and supports me to continue to study.
Improving the lives of any person in our society is an act of kindness and generosity that we can all do in our individual capacity.
A vision and mission for women and girls
Her Liberty Namibia (HLN) envisions a united women movement where young women and girls are self-reliant and are fully aware of their ability to influence their societies. The organisation aims to equip young women and girls with the tools that enables them to harness their livelihood whilst providing them with continuous platforms for self-sustainability.
Her Liberty Namibia is a young women-led non-profit organization aimed at empowering and developing young women and the girl child by:
- Personal and leadership development.
- Social and economic empowerment.
- Self-esteem and confidence building.
Our mission is to:
- Empower and create an understanding among young women and girls about principles on promoting and encouraging independence and self-sufficiency.
- Develop necessary programs and projects that advocate gender rights and equality, especially sexual reproductive health and rights.
- Provide young girls and women a platform to present and advocate for themselves on key issues affecting their social and socio-economic livelihood.
- Contribute to the service delivery, policy and legal reform processes affecting young women and girls.
Why young people? Why youth-led?
According to WHO estimates, 16 million girls aged between 15-19 years of age and 1 million girls under the age of 15 give birth every year in most low and middle income countries. It deeply concerns me to see and hear such alarming data of young girls that are facing problems of early and unintended pregnancy, problems which can be prevented and eliminated by our respective countries.
As young people, even without the data and the evidence on paper, we understand the importance and the urgency to strengthen national responses to the HIV epidemic and to reduce new HIV/STI infection, combat sexual violence and abuse, tackle early and unintended pregnancy, and tackle the many other problems that young African girls are facing.
Young people know and understand their social dynamics and the only way to influence and change social ills that affect young people is when they are placed as key partners of any agenda.
Being a young person and a young girl, I myself have seen and felt barriers in accessing my SRH needs: if I want to look after my sexual health, I need to be empowered with the information I need to have a say on whether I go get tested or not, without the need to get consent, because no one else but ME understand the sexual pressure I face.
Additionally, in 17 developing countries, half the population is under the age of 18 - that alone should call us to action because if we leave half a population exposed to HIV infections, early child marriage, teenage pregnancy, low quality education, inaccessibility of health services especially youth friendly health services then we lose out on 50% percent of human capital that will make up the next working age population that can nurture economic development.