Judith a Gates Foundation Youth Accountability Advocate from Tanzania, is another young Restless women to celebrate ahead of International Women’s Day. She inspires other women and young girls to keep working towards gender equality in order to make the change real.
My passion is to bring positive change to the community, especially to end all kinds of inequalities existing in communities between men and women. Many societies in our country undermine and discriminate women and young girls. This has inspired me to help these group of people in order to end all discriminatory practices and empower women in all spheres of life.
Judith and a group of women at one of the villages in Namtumbo speaking about poor cultural practices found in their communities.
I am a Youth Accountability Advocate working with Restless Development on the “Tutimize Ahadi” project in the Namtumbo District.
The project involves the tracking of Sustainable Development Goal 5 on gender equality and particularly the Tanzanian government’s commitments on family planning as part of FP2020.
I started by sensitization the community in order to create awareness. I used peer to peer training to educate and identify youth priorities, and data collection so that we can have evidence and a clear picture of the real community and its people. Events were held for the dissemination of information to share the results of the data with government leaders and the general community.
Judith Kitinga at Mandepwende village conducting peer to peer training on the issue of gender equality and sexual rights education.
The results of my data collection showed that a large number of women and girls are discriminated against and denied their rights due to many issues of poor cultural practices. These included forced and early marriages; lack of education; being voiceless in decisions making and women not being allowed to own their own land.
The research provides clear evidence of the needs for the situation.
During data dissemination event at Rwinga ward when we used football match, traditional drums, dancing and comedy to educate the community about gender based violence, violence against children, sexual rights and family planning.
District dissemination of findings about family planning and gender equality. Leaders were invited into group discussions on how to solve some challenges and problems in their community towards gender equality according to gaps from findings.
I am so proud to be able to learn from different people in local communities, changing people’s perception, especially men, and emphasising the importance of young people’s positions in the community in terms of development.
I have seen that I have contributed to a lot of changes in the communities that I work with. Violence against children is ending, and women have started to recognise their rights.
A great example of success is Faraja, a wife and mother from a village in Namtumbo.
Just like the majority of girls in her community, Faraja was often denied the right to engage in any productive activities. Her voice was ignored by her family and she was forced to listen only to her husband. After attending gender equality training from Restless Development, Faraja felt confident to speak to her husband about her ambitions to become a business woman. He supported her to start selling sunflower seeds which now contribute to the family income.
Now Faraja is making a great impact by sharing her knowledge of gender equality and the importance of female empowerment with the girls, boys, women and men in her community. She is happily enjoying her life with her family, cultivating together as an equal to her husband.
She is an ambassador in her community and a role model to other women and young girls around her who are now engaging in different economic activities such as selling clothes or baking goods.
Faraja a change maker who changed her life and started a business of buying sunflower seeds from cultivators to sell it a businessman after joining and attending Restless Development session on empowering women.
Judith in the middle, Faraja on the right and Magreth on the left. The young women are all happy after becoming aware of their position in the community and now engaging in small businesses which help them to earn money and contribute to family development.
‘One person cannot change the whole world, but if all of us join hands to work together and believe in each other, we can achieve the world goal of gender equality.’
Judith at the High Level Political Forum in New York 2018
In 2018, I got a chance to attend High Level Political Forum in New York and represented children and youth. This opportunity is proof that young girls can use our voices to be heard and demand action.