My name is Aisha Matiko. I am working with Restless Development Tanzania in Dodoma city, Makole ward as a Youth Accountability Advocate for Restless’ Tutimize Ahadi project. The project involves the tracking of SDG 5 on gender equality and particularly the Tanzanian government’s commitments on family planning as part of FP2020.
Ahead of my visit to this year’s UN General Assembly summit – where I will be attending as a Youth Accountability Advocate, I was interviewed about my community work to end gender-based violence in my community
What is your focus area in the community you are working with?
In the community am working with, I chose to focus on gender-based violence (GBV) and violence against children (VAC) These are major issues in my community due to negative cultural beliefs and existing economic, social and gender inequalities Also, as a gender and sexual reproductive health advocate, ending GBV and VAC is integral to my work.
According to the URT-MOHCDGEC (United Republic of Tanzania – Ministry of Health Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children) Gender Based Violence and Violence Against Children participants guidebook the most contributing factors to GBV and VAC are existing gender inequalities and a complete sexual reproductive health package must include prevention and management of GBV victims.
How do you feel about the impact of your work on communities and on the lives of young people?
I really feel that my work is really transforming lives in my community for the better.
This is especially for many young girls and women who were not so much aware of GBV and VAC issues and their rights as women.
From time-to-time community members ask me for extra sessions. Apart from the sessions, some women and girls have been asking for my help and support to break or put an end to violence they have been experiencing.
How have you been passing on what you gained to other young people?
As part of my work, I lead peer-to-peer sessions with young people every month. I also get to engage in conversations with community members in my spare time. Through these sessions and conversations I get to train people on GBV.
The training provides young people with tools and expertise to understand root causes of violence in their communities; it involves them and other community members to prevent such violence and links them where to access support if violence is experienced.
What do young people say about your work?
Young people are inspired and motivated by my work. They always ask me to extend the project to other communities so that even more young people can benefit.
The compliments and comments I get from my fellow youth motivate me. What excites me most is that I get to be part of their changing story.
How does your work help young people?
In my line of work, helping young people is my number one priority. Through my work I get to help young people in various ways, it helps young people to realize the power they possess as youth.
It makes young people aware of Sexual Reproductive Health Rights which in has helped to reduce early pregnancies, maternal death, infant mortality rate and unsafe abortions.
My work also empowers young people to be accountable in various development issues in their community. It also enables them to hold their leaders accountable on their responsibilities as well.
How can we engage young people more effectively?
By creating more spaces for them in various leadership and development issues. Young people deserve a seat at the table to be able to deliberate their issues as well as to make their own informed decisions. This is possible through enabling young people and putting them in the front line of implementing development issues.
What have you gained personally from being involved?
Personally, by becoming part of the project, I have gained more knowledge on gender issues, family planning and modern contraceptives. I have gained other professional experiences such as data collection, data analysis and interpretation skills.
My reporting skills have improved and advanced a lot. I have also had a chance to interact with various leaders, partners and decision makers. Also from the community, I have gained new social experiences.