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TuWezeshe Akina Dada Alumni

Our young women’s leadership programme, ‘TuWezeshe Akina Dada’ – Swahili for ‘empowering our sisters’ – is a feminist leadership programme that seeks to inspire a generation of young African women to engage in both civil and political spaces and to take collective action against VAWG.

TuWezeshe Akina Dada is a one-year fellowship programme, during which the young women Fellows build up core leadership skills, are mentored by established female leaders and ultimately receive funding to initiate their own Social Action Projects.

TuWezeshe is led by FORWARD in partnership with Akina Mama wa Afrika, Sub-Sahara Advisory Panel, Children’s Dignity Forum, and Somaliland Nursing and Midwifery Association.

This page showcases the achievements of our leadership programme alumni.

England Fellows

Afua Nkansah-Asamoah

Afua Nkansah-Asamoah England Fellow

Alice Olomola

Alice Olomola England Fellow

Amina Omoteso

Amina Omoteso England Fellow

Aniesha Obuobie

Aniesha Obuobie England Fellow

Bimpe Lawal

Bimpe Lawal England Fellow

Catherine Onoselase

Catherine Onoselase England Fellow

Christelle Tambi

Christelle Tambi England Fellow

Cynthia Pokuah

Cynthia Pokuah England Fellow

Grace Labeodan

Grace Labeodan England Fellow

Hanna Adan

Hanna Adan England Fellow

Jasmin Adebisi

Jasmin Adebisi England Fellow

Jemmar Samuels

Jemmar Samuels England Fellow

Jernene Poponne

Jernene Poponne England Fellow

Joanne Mukoko

Joanne Mukoko England Fellow

Kelly Ann Fonderson

Kelly Ann Fonderson England Fellow

Larissa Kennedy

Larissa Kennedy England Fellow

Miriam Lawan

Miriam Lawan England Fellow

Misha Camara

Misha Camara England Fellow

Natalie Acheampong

Natalie Acheampong England Fellow

Natalie Whitmore

Natalie Whitmore England Fellow

Nki Nafisa Jones

Nki Nafisa Jones England Fellow

Rochelle Ampomah

Rochelle Ampomah England Fellow

Sagal Bafo

Sagal Bafo England Fellow

Sandile Mtetwa

Sandile Mtetwa England Fellow

Shariffa Chebichi

Shariffa Chebichi England Fellow

Tobore Sonia Dajiaga

Tobore Sonia Dajiaga England Fellow

Yasin Bojang

Yasin Bojang England Fellow

Yasmeen Ojeleye

Yasmeen Ojeleye England Fellow

Zethu Maseko

Zethu Maseko England Fellow

Afua Nkansah-Asamoah

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England Fellow

Afua Nkansah-Asamoah’s Social Action Project – ‘The Young Fem Alliance’ – sought to raise awareness of the power imbalance between the genders and to build alliances with young males, helping them to better understand their own identities, how their power operates in the spaces that they occupy and how this affects the women and girls around them.

Ms. Nkansah-Asamoah first held a pilot event on ‘Power’, which was then followed by a full workshop on ‘Power, Identity, Femininity and Toxic Masculinity’. In total, 20 girls and 10 boys, aged 12-16, participated in her project.

“I have grown so much in my leadership and activism through the TuWezeshe programme. Previously, I had not thought about how to bring conversations about violence against women into the faith community and my mentor and the FORWARD team have helped me do this positively and successfully.”

Alice Olomola

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England Fellow

For her Social Action Project, Alice Olomola organised an ‘ACS Women’s Empowerment Session’ at St. Andrew’s University. In partnership with the African and Caribbean Society (i.e. ACS), the event was held not only to celebrate International Women’s Day, but also to create awareness of the importance of intersectionality within feminism.

Due to the special, trust-inspiring nature of the space provided – being a “women only” or “Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic only” space – the 30 attendees (20 female) felt safe enough to share their stories about experiences that they had never been able to share previously. For example, Female Genital Mutilation, as a form of violence, was discussed with people who had never even heard the term before.

The event was aimed at St. Andrew’s students of all backgrounds. It received positive feedback attendees, saying that ‘this event is highly needed and needs to happen every year’.

Amina Omoteso

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England Fellow

After the TuWezeshe training, Aminah Omoteso decided to use her Social Action Project to cascade her learnings with the aim of spreading awareness of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence, feminist education and her newly gained leaderships skills. This led to the creation of her project entitled ‘We Learn, We Lead’.

Her target audience were young women living in Leicester, whom she reached through a series of workshops. In total, twelve participants took part in the workshops. Each session focussed on a different topic, in order to engage the young women on each theme most effectively and thus to ensure that they could in turn become effective advocated against Sexual and Gender-Based Violence in their communities.

Aniesha Obuobie

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England Fellow

For her Social Action Project, entitled ‘Let’s Talk’, Aniesha Obuobie raised awareness among young women aged 18-26 on the relationship between social media and Sexual and Gender-Based Violence, using a safe-space discussion group. Participants gained an increased awareness of how social media can be used to positively amplify movements for social change, to ensure that these movements are long-lasting and to create new solidarity networks among the individuals and groups in a movement.

“I was reminded how impactful our voices are – it’s easy to forget the difference your skills can make. What a ride! I’ve gained amazing friends and a lot more confidence”.

Bimpe Lawal

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England Fellow

1 in 3 – Sexual Harassment in Higher Education’, Bimpe Lawal’s Social Action Project, constituted a desk-based research project exploring the services, policies and campaigns in place in London’s universities to prevent and tackle sexual violence and rape on their campuses. Ms. Lawal’s report in particular reviewed the preventative measures that the universities had implemented to date.

The ultimate goal was to target selected universities, following the research, in order to strengthen their systems and to support the students affected by sexual violence. The resulting report also formed a foundation on which FORWARD has since been able to build in its work on sexual harassment in Higher Education.

“The fellowship has truly been a life-changing experience. It has helped me develop the confidence [that] I have in my abilities and [in] myself as a whole. It has empowered me and made me realise [that] I am capable of creating change and making a positive impact […]. I’ve made some lifelong friends through the programme, which I will be eternally grateful for.”

Catherine Onoselase

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England Fellow

The objective of Catherine Onoselase’s project, entitled ‘Jikoni Gist’ (meaning “kitchen gist”), was to encourage honest inter-generational conversations between mothers and daughters of African heritage, on sexual reproductive health and on Violence Against Women and Girls. Using baking as a means to break the ice, Catherine organised this baking class to empower participants to indulge in these discussions, whilst at the same time having fun and learning a new skill.

Reaching eight individuals, Ms. Onoselase’s Social Action Project was welcomed by the participants, who noted that despite the discomfort that some of them had felt in discussing these issues, the baking activity had broken through some of the barriers and made it easier to ‘gist’.

“The fellowship has given me the confidence to make things happen, from a simple idea into a reality – as well as helping to reinforce my desire to work on gender, youth and social inclusion.”

Christelle Tambi

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England Fellow

Christelle Tambi, for her TuWezeshe project, carried out a so-called “in conversation with” dialogue, entitled ‘Lived Experiences of Gender-Based Violence’. The dialogue invited a group of seven young men of African heritage, between the ages of 25-30 years, to talk about their experiences of Gender-Based Violence on the African continent, and to suggest solutions to challenge and end it.

The young men made many suggestions as to how diaspora Africans could change attitudes on the continent, as well as exploring what they (as individual activists) could do. Their suggestions included, for example, raising children to be more emotionally intelligent, and men taking action when they know that women in their entourage are suffering domestic violence.

Cynthia Pokuah

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England Fellow

The purpose of the ‘My Body My Power Workshops’ – Cynthia Pokuah’s first Social Action Project – was to provide schoolgirls of colour, aged between 11 and 16, with more knowledge of seldom-discussed topics, from menstruation and Female Genital Mutilation to dating violence and the effects of social media.

Ms. Pokuah’s second Social Action Project created a safe space to channel participants’ creativity while having an open dialogue about female anatomy among women of colour. The event was called ‘Bubbles & Brushes: The Vulva Edition’. Using paint, paint brushes and canvases, ten black women were able to start conversations about sexual reproductive health and the issues surrounding violence against women and girls. The conversation was dominated by certain topics, such as Female Genital Mutilation and the differences, yet beauty, of the female anatomy.

TuWezeshe has made me confident about my passion and [has] let me know [that] I am able to leave my mark of change on the world.”

Grace Labeodan

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England Fellow

Grace Labeodan’s Social Action Project, entitled ‘Gender, Power and Politics’, brought together young black women between the ages of 18 to 25, of African/Caribbean descent, to discuss the issues of the underrepresentation of black women in certain spaces. Over the course of two workshops, the young women explored ways of reclaiming their personal power and advancing their rights as women. The workshops were an opportunity to discuss power, to unpack what it means to have rights as black women, and to build connections and bonds among the participants, creating a support network.

“Being a TuWezeshe Fellow has opened a number of doors for me and given me more confidence to tackle issues that affect women, particularly the under-representation of women of colour in positions of power. I am proud to say that I now advocate for diversity and inclusion in my sector.”

Hanna Adan

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England Fellow

For their first Social Action Project, entitled ‘#SpeakUp’, Hanna Adan and Yasin Bojang created a short animated advocacy film that explored four different forms of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence experienced by women: sexual harassment in the workplace, harassment by a family member, Female Genital Mutilation and marital rape.

The film premiered at an event attended by 25 women aged 18-65. Before the  screening, Ms. Adan and Ms. Bojang engaged with the audience to ensure that a supportive and safe space was established. The event ended with a discussion on the best strategies to deal with the scenarios featured in the animation. Thanks to the peer learning and peer support shared by the women attending the event, they left feeling better equipped to talk about their experiences in the future.

Ms. Bojang and Ms. Adan then formed ‘Home Girls Unite’, a support group for the eldest daughters of immigrant families. This second Social Action Project has become a very successful venture and now includes events, podcasts and a regular newsletter.

Thank you for bringing us together and empowering us to start our own initiative!”

Jasmin Adebisi

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England Fellow

Jasmin Adebisi’s Social Action Project, an event entitled ‘The Power of Melanin’, sold out twice, and brought together 27 young women of colour at the University of Essex in order to discuss self-care and other issues faced by black women. Through her Social Action Project, Ms. Adebisi sought to educate more women on campus in these areas.

Each event comprised 3 sessions, including: Getting to Know Yourself, Resilience and Empowerment (delivered by a Tedx and International Women’s Day guest speaker), and Self-Care and the Power Within.

Since the ‘The Power of Melanin’ event, the University Network that hosted it has received a high volume of queries from students regarding the event; the network is now in discussions for a possible replication on the campus.

“When you are crazy enough to believe that you can accomplish it, you will be fearless enough to pursue what you want to become. The TuWezeshe experience doesn’t just arrive at perfection, it’s a journey towards excellence.”

Jemmar Samuels

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England Fellow

The objective of ‘Femicide in the Caribbean’, Jemmar Samuels’s Social Action Project, was to raise awareness of Gender-Based Violence in the Caribbean region. The documentary format she chose provided a platform for Caribbean women to express their views and opinions on Gender-Based Violence and related topics. Ms. Samuels’s documentary thus featured several young women from across the region.

The film was first screened privately to community activists for feedback, after which a public screening was held. Following the screening, discussions among the 40 attendees explored the work that is currently being done to tackle this issue. The money raised through entry fees at the public screening was donated to the all-girl feminist halls at the University of the West Indies in Kingston, Jamaica. The documentary will soon be released on YouTube.

“This project [has] made me realise that I want to continue to work on tackling the issue of gender-based violence within the [Caribbean] region. I might possibly start my own NGO.”

Jernene Poponne

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England Fellow

Jernene Poponne’s Social Action Project, ‘The Hair Whizz’, provided self-care sessions (focussing on natural hair care) during which discussions on sensitive topics could emerge in a safe environement. The discussions went from Sexual and Gender-Based Violence – both the statistics and people’s personal experiences – to topics around sexuality, female hygiene, Female Genital Mutilation, vulnerability and empowerment. In addition, over the course of these sessions, Ms. Poponne was often able to signpost individuals taking part to the relevant support services that are available in the UK.

The intimate nature of the group allowed open talks among black  transsexual women and Female Genital Mutilation survivors on topics that are usually taboo in the black community, promoting acceptance and mutual understanding among the participants.

 “The TuWezeshe experience has given me the foundation [that] I needed to overcome hindrances (like procrastination), restore my self-esteem and genuinely contribute to the fight against sexual and gender-based violence. It has instilled in me the theoretical knowledge and the practical tools [that I] needed to empower myself and others.”

Joanne Mukoko

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England Fellow

Joanne Mukoko hosted a seminar – the ‘International Women’s Day Seminar’ – to explore various different topics, such as feminism, self-care, sexual health and Gender-Based Violence. It was a specially created safe-space event for black women (over the age of 18) to learn about the chosen topics.

The target group was selected precisely because this group is often left out of conversations regarding feminism. The seminar was attended by seven women; the group was diverse in terms of age, ranging from 20 to 55.

“The training has given me so much more confidence in myself as a woman, [in] the power that I have and that I am able to make a difference.”

Kelly Ann Fonderson

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England Fellow

Using a discussion format, Kelly Ann Fonderson’s Social Action Project created an environment in which 24 students could openly share their views on the beliefs that perpetuate and normalise – or can minimise – sexual violence. The event was entitled ‘Let’s talk about sex and consent: How do we build a safer African community at Oxford University?’.

Participants were asked, first of all, to respond to a series of 15 statements that explored the nuances of consent. They then had to debate their answers with the other participants. The 16 women and 8 men taking part in the event found this discourse stimulating and thought-provoking. And, as a result of the discussion, some participants were able to change their entrenched views on consent.

“The TuWezeshe fellowship not only advocates for women and girls [to have] freedom from sexual and gender-based violence, but also trains young women to be leaders and change-makers in their communities. Through this fellowship, I have become a more adept advocate and [have] gained an inspiring network of like-minded, supportive young leaders.”

Larissa Kennedy

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England Fellow

Larissa Kennedy produced a mini-documentary for her TuWezeshe project. She wanted to make ‘Talawa’ primarily to educate young people about Female Genital Mutilation.

The mini-documentary was created by working in partnership with several young activists in the movement to end this practice. In the short film, the activists – three women and one man – deconstruct many of the myths around Female Genital Mutilation. At the same time, they share their journeys into activism and their ambitions as youth activists.

The film premiered at the ‘Another Way Now’ event on Zero Tolerance Day (6th Feb 2020). The screening was attended by 70 people. The documentary has since been placed on various social media platforms, where it has received 4614 impressions, 625 media views and 228 engagements on Twitter.

“I can truly say that the TuWezeshe programme has poured into me as a community organiser. I am forever supported by and inspired by my TuWezeshe sisters in activism, not only here in the UK but in Uganda, Tanzania and beyond. I know that, together, we have the power to change the world!”

Miriam Lawan

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England Fellow

Female Genital Mutilation: The Final Cut’, Miriam Lawan’s project, provided a safe space for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic women to discuss issues of violence against women and girls (particularly Female Genital Mutilation) through a mini movie screening and workshop.

The screening reflected different aspects of the sensitive issues surrounding violence suffered by women and girls, serving as a basis to spark conversations among the participants over the rest of the afternoon. Next, the screening was followed by an ice-breaker quiz session, which helped to cement the learnings from the short films through fun and laugher.

The afternoon ended with a workshop and open discussion on the emotional, physical and mental health effects of Female Genital Mutilation and how best to address them. The workshop and concluding discussion were moderated by a Female Genital Mutilation safeguarding specialist.

“Female Genital Mutilation: The Final Cut’ was brought together by The Elevation Platform, [itself] created by sponsorship from TuWezeshe. And FORWARD continues to provide safe spaces for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic women to discuss issues faced in everyday life.” 

Misha Camara

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England Fellow

Ssanyu means “joy” in Misha Camara’s native language (Luganda). Her 6-week intervention, ‘Ssanyu – Rising with Joy, Reclaiming our Power’, used Cognitive Behavioural Therapy to bridge the gap between social change, mental health and Gender-Based Violence. Ms. Camara’s Social Action Project provided a mixture of psychoeducation and other tools to help survivors manage the lasting psychological effects of intimate partner violence. The target audience were Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic women aged 18-30.

Due to the deeply personal nature of the intervention, the six women were able to critically explore various aspects of their identities and feelings of self-worth, as well as ways to reclaim their power as women.

At the project’s end, the PHQ9 and GAD7 questionnaires (widely used measures of depression and anxiety symptoms) completed by the participants showed that 80% of the women were “in recovery” following the intervention.

“Completing this project helped me to recognise the power of sisterhood. Recovery, solidarity and [our] collective strength fostered joy in all of its forms!”

Natalie Acheampong

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England Fellow

Natalie Acheampong’s Social Action Project researched MARACs: a mechanism used to help high-risk victims of domestic abuse. The ‘Track My MARAC’ project set out to analyse the current state of MARACs, in order to identify ways in which they could be improved.

The project focussed both on the survivors of violence themselves and on the community of organisations working to prevent and respond to violence against women, targeting professionals with extensive knowledge or experience of MARACs. Overall – and in addition to the desk-based academic research she conducted for the project –  Ms. Acheampong spoke with 10 victims of severe domestic abuse, interviewed 20 professionals working in the sector of domestic abuse, and cultivated a survey that received 133 individual responses.

The resulting paper was published on the occasion of a roundtable hosted at the BPP University of Law and chaired by Standing Together and DeafHope, with over 40 people in attendance.

Natalie Whitmore

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England Fellow

Tobore Sonia Dajiaga’s and Natalie Whitmore’s Social Action Project, called ‘Let’s Talk: Sexual Harassment & Digital Rights’, was a combination between a workshop and an open discussion. The event explored young women’s experiences of online and offline sexual harassment and their knowledge of digital citizenship. Young women (aged 18–26) were the target audience, because they are 27 times more likely to be harassed online than the average person.

Two of the key outcomes were, firstly, the joy that participants felt in having a safe space to discuss these sensitive issues openly, and, secondly, the sense of sisterhood and feeling of wellbeing that emerged. Following their Social Action Project, a journalist invited the Fellows onto her podcast show to talk about their Project and about the TuWezeshe programme.

“TuWezeshe has taught us the importance of collaborative power and its ability to achieve and create an environment where empowerment can occur externally and internally – to ultimately inspire and uplift our self-worth and potential as women.”

Nki Nafisa Jones

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England Fellow

Nki Nafisa Jones conducted a research project, entitled ‘Sabi Yu Body: Comprehensive Sexuality Education in Sierra Leone’. The project set out to provide more context to underpin advocacy that is demanding the inclusion of comprehensive sexuality education in Sierra Leone’s National Curriculum.

The research process followed the PRECEDE-PROCEED model and relied on both primary data from interviews with women’s rights activists and educators in Sierra Leone, and secondary data collected through desk-based research. The resulting paper was aimed at a diverse audience, from individuals interested in the subject all the way up to organisations and policymakers.

Ms. Jones’s research led to her being taken on as an intern by the United Nations Population Fund in Sierra Leone (who were themselves working on the topics covered in her research). This, in turn, enabled her to attend the International Conference on Population and Development in Kenya in 2019.

Rochelle Ampomah

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England Fellow

Rochelle Ampomah’s first Social Action Project, which was entitled ‘I Have a Voice’, empowered ten young women from the African diaspora, aged 14-15, over the course of eight training sessions. The training covered the subjects of Female Genital Mutilation, identity, sexual health, mental health, career options, race and politics.

In addition to the project’s training sessions, Ms. Ampomah arranged for the students to visit the House of Commons and meet with the then Shadow Home Secretary, Diane Abbott, and the then MP for Peterborough, Fiona Onasanya.

Ms. Ampomah has now also started work on a second Social Action Project: a social enterprise called ‘The Three Es’. The aim of this initiative is to promote digital inclusion and to educate, empower and encourage women in Africa and across the diaspora.

‘I wouldn’t have been able to achieve this if it wasn’t for TuWezeshe. It’s just reinforced my passion for women’s rights. And the leadership skills I gained helped me become decisive in my decisions, confident in them!’

Sagal Bafo

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England Fellow

Sagal Bafo’s Social Action Project, the ‘Somali Sister’s Network’, was set up to facilitate more safe spaces for women and girls within the Somali community, and to explore topics around gender, sexual and reproductive health, and human rights. Through the new network, Ms. Bafo hosted weekly sessions, during which 25 Somali women could discuss culturally sensitive topics, such as Female Genital Mutilation and sexual liberation. The sessions allowed participants to express and share their personal perspectives and fostered intergenerational dialogue between participants of different ages. The weekly conversations also provided a forum for the women to explore ways in which they could collectively promote grassroots social change within the Somali community.

“I was able to gain the confidence and knowledge needed to facilitate these safe spaces. Most importantly, it allowed me to appreciate the importance of community innovation in addressing gender issues.”

Sandile Mtetwa

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England Fellow

Sandile Mtetwa’s initial project was a fun-run event in Harare (Zimbabwe). ‘A Mile Together: Running Against Gender-Based Violence’ was a day of activities dedicated to mobilising the community and to raising awareness in order to eliminate gender-based violence. While the target audience included members of the public of all ages, the event was especially aimed at the youth. The fun-run took place on 30th March 2019 at the University of Zimbabwe.  70 participants ran together, practised Zumba and learned more about Gender-Based Violence from partner organisations working in that area.

Ms. Mtetwa then went on to organise a further project, entitled ‘Training Gender-Based Violence Youth Advocates’ – a 3-day training workshop for 20 Zimbabwean students interested in becoming advocates against Gender-Based Violence in their communities.

“Being a TuWezeshe Fellow has helped me [to] assert myself as an advocate against gender-based violence. I am better versed [to carry out] activism in Zimbabwe through the leadership programme.”

Shariffa Chebichi

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England Fellow

Shariffa Chebichi’s Social Action Project, which she named ‘Consent on Canvas’, created a safe space for 15 young black women to discuss taboo topics, like consent and sex. With the help of an artist and mood music, the participants were able to get their creative juices flowing, reflecting on and then depicting on canvas what consent meant to them.

The idea behind this initiative was that, in a safe space, looking at an issue from a different viewpoint can unlock a woman’s potential; ‘Consent on Canvas’ did just that. At the end of the session, the artwork displayed proved that women can really soar! They just need the right environment in which to talk, to clear their minds and “voilà”: the magic happens.

“When we began the Fellowship during our training session, I could not find a single part of my body that I considered as a source to my strength. I could not see my value: [the] ‘my body, my power’ mantra didn’t make sense to me. But after the three days and completing my Social Action Project, [I have] begun to appreciate the different parts that make Shariffa; I have since seen my value.

Asante TuWezeshe Fellowship, kweli mliniwezesha. [Thank you TuWezeshe, you truly empowered me].”

Tobore Sonia Dajiaga

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England Fellow

Tobore Sonia Dajiaga’s and Natalie Whitmore’s Social Action Project, called ‘Let’s Talk: Sexual Harassment & Digital Rights’, was a combination between a workshop and an open discussion. The event explored young women’s experiences of online and offline sexual harassment and their knowledge of digital citizenship. Young women (aged 18–26) were the target audience, because they are 27 times more likely to be harassed online than the average person.

Two of the key outcomes were, firstly, the joy that participants felt in having a safe space to discuss these sensitive issues openly, and, secondly, the sense of sisterhood and feeling of wellbeing that emerged. Following their Social Action Project, a journalist invited the Fellows onto her podcast show to talk about their Project and about the TuWezeshe programme.

“TuWezeshe has taught us the importance of collaborative power and its ability to achieve and create an environment where empowerment can occur externally and internally – to ultimately inspire and uplift our self-worth and potential as women.”

Yasin Bojang

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England Fellow

For their first Social Action Project, entitled ‘#SpeakUp’, Hanna Adan and Yasin Bojang created a short animated advocacy film that explored four different forms of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence experienced by women: sexual harassment in the workplace, harassment by a family member, Female Genital Mutilation and marital rape.

The film premiered at an event attended by 25 women aged 18-65. Before the  screening, Ms. Adan and Ms. Bojang engaged with the audience to ensure that a supportive and safe space was established. The event ended with a discussion on the best strategies to deal with the scenarios featured in the animation. Thanks to the peer learning and peer support shared by the women attending the event, they left feeling better equipped to talk about their experiences in the future.

Ms. Bojang and Ms. Adan then formed ‘Home Girls Unite’, a support group for the eldest daughters of immigrant families. This second Social Action Project has become a very successful venture and now includes events, podcasts and a regular newsletter.

Thank you for bringing us together and empowering us to start our own initiative!”

Yasmeen Ojeleye

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England Fellow

Yasmeen Ojeleye’s Social Action Project was a workshop targeting women aged 18-35 from different backgrounds and seeking to empower them to “own” their sexual autonomy: to critically analyse what popular culture sells us as a so-called “healthy relationship”.

Over the course of the workshop, entitled ‘Exploring Consent Through Pop Culture’, the 14 participants (12 women and 2 men) critically analysed scenes from popular culture as a group and came to the worrying realisation that many types of Gender-Based Violence are subliminally ‘packaged’ as #relationshipgoals. Women came in feeling less than comfortable with their sexuality; thanks to the workshop, they left feeling much more secure.

“I am aware of my power and I now have the skills to become an effective soldier in the battle for equality.”

Zethu Maseko

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England Fellow

Zethu Maseko’s Social Action Project used art as a tool to heal and empower 14 women whilst they discussed Sexual and Gender-Based Violence. In the context of South African women, who face a high rate of gender-base violence, Ms. Maseko’s project – ‘Kuphiliswa Empowering and Healing Art Workshops’ – explored ways in which women can fight back against, and heal from, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence through expressive art-making. Activities consisted of self-reflecting sculpture, life drawing and painting, and poetry.

The 14 women participating in the project went on to form a network, called Kuphiliswa, and the healing art workshops have now become an annual event. They are hosted by MEMPROW SA, where women taking part can also access support services.

“The 5-day workshop was so successful that I have been invited back to make it an annual event. I have also received the Young Achiever Future Leader award, and have been asked to replicate my workshops at Sheffield and Bournemouth Universities and at the Tottenham community cook-up –  and to share my Social Action Project at a few ‘Themselves’ art events.”

Wales Fellows

Aisha Kigwalilo

Aisha Kigwalilo Wales Fellow

Annabelle Njenga

Annabelle Njenga Wales Fellow

Ashashi Attah

Ashashi Attah Wales Fellow

Cynthia Sitei

Cynthia Sitei Wales Fellow

Fahima Jama Omer

Fahima Jama Omer Wales Fellow

Lucemo Mlewa

Lucemo Mlewa Wales Fellow

Maelona Betts

Maelona Betts Wales Fellow

Umulkhayr Mohamed

Umulkhayr Mohamed Wales Fellow

Aisha Kigwalilo

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Wales Fellow

A collaborative art exhibition showcasing young, up-and-coming artists through the representation and celebration of individuality, the ‘G.I.R.L. Xhibition’ – Aisha Kigwalilo’s Social Action Project – made the case for empowerment by demonstrating the ways in which society only gives platforms to certain narratives.

Due to the limitations that communities face when it comes to representation, although numerous narratives have the potential to shape an individual’s development, many of those narratives are hardly explored. The G.I.R.L. Xhibition shone a light on the narratives of the ordinary, expressed through art. Seeking in this way to make the unconventional… into the new conventional.

The exhibition was hosted in turn by four different venues: at the official launch of the Temple of Peace in Cardiff, at the ‘Youth Conference’ hosted by the National Museum of Wales, at St. Fagan’s Museum, with over 200 people attending, and at the ‘2019 Women of the World Festival’.

“With the help of nine artists from across the UK, I aim to portray the individuality and narratives of the average black woman, the stories that do not live up to [the] expectations of society.”

Annabelle Njenga

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Wales Fellow

The overall objective of Annabelle Njenga’s Social Action Project, the ‘Jitenge/Black Feminists and Friends Network’, was to address the intersectionality of the challenges that Black and Minority Ethnic women face in their personal and professional lives. Ms. Njenga created a safe space where women were able to talk about their experiences and receive moral support from their peers.

Through seven workshops, each covering a different topic – entrepreneurship, racism, mental health, black feminism, Gender-Based Violence and personal financial management – these Black and Minority Ethnic women gained practical skills to allow them to tackle their difficulties in these areas. In Ms. Njenga’s own words, the poster designed to advertise the Network “represents a battle cry against the racial and gender discrimination that black women face.” In total, her Social Action Project reached 35 women, while the Network’s Instagram account currently has 57 followers and 137 likes.

“My TuWezeshe project has been an invaluable experience! I’ve been empowered to be active in supporting my community. I’ve made more connections, made new friends, grown in confidence, and developed my professional skills… In the future, I hope to expand the network and the support and services that its members can have access to.”

Ashashi Attah

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Wales Fellow

Ashashi Attah’s aim, through her project ‘Gender Equity: Hand-Picking Feminism’, was to discuss and define what “feminism” truly means to different people, as well as to uncover the misconceptions and controversies that surround this word. Targeting young people, she hosted an event tagged as a “pizza and convo night” in order to create a semi-social and informal setting and to avoid the conversation becoming unnecessarily difficult.

The event was attended by eight young men and six young women from the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic community, aged 16 – 29. The group first watched the film ‘When They See Us’, before embarking on a rich discussion about Gender-Based Violence, race, culture and identity.

Bassmala Mohammed Elbushary

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Wales Fellow

Women’s Rights in Sudan’, Bassmala Mohammed Elbushary’s Social Action Project, started with a research component assessing the proportion of young Sudanese girls who are outside the school system due to cultural reasons, a lack of freedom or a lack of power. She wrote a report to present the findings of this research.

In the second stage of the project, Ms. Elbushary then held two diaspora meetings to discuss these findings, first with a group of 15 Sudanese men in London, and then with another group of nine Sudanese women in Newport Gwent.

Finally, she hosted a Facebook Live discussion on the subject of Sudanese women’s rights, with two special guests (Fathia Elbushary and Mawa Morkazb). As of 21st April 2020, the recorded video of this discussion had generated 17,000 views and 29 shares on Facebook.

Cynthia Sitei

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Wales Fellow

The Sea Embraces the Sky’  – the photographic documentary that Cynthia Sitei created during her Social Action Project – breaks the stigma and the stereotypes surrounding victims of rape and sexual violence by taking the conversation right into African households. To fully reflect the depth of this issue, Cynthia interviewed 35 people, including rape survivors, police officers, non-governmental organisations, Members of Parliament, professors, social media influencers and the former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Kenya, Jacinta Mwatela. ‘The Sea Embraces the Sky’ adopted a particular focus on the causes of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence in Kenya’s Taita and Kwale communities.

It is all thanks to all of the effort and amazing work that you, FORWARD, have done for us. [You] made us believe in ourselves.”

Fahima Jama Omer

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Wales Fellow

Fahima Jama Omer’s Social Action Project, entitled ‘Hey, Sis’, took the form of a blog that focussed on positive affirmations, creative writing, speaking and art. Her blog discussed topics such as Female Genital Mutilation, self-care, African feminism and photography, aiming to empower young black girl readers in this way. Fahima’s blog ‘Hey Sis’ reached 136 people over its 2-year existence.

“From painting and writing poetry with six black girls, aged between 7 and 11, to in-depth conversations on ‘colourism’ and the impact of the ‘dark skin vs. light skin’ debate on darker-skinned people, I opened up a dialogue and gave a voice [to] young black girls to talk and heal.”

Lucemo Mlewa

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Wales Fellow

The TuWezeshe project ‘Research on Education Provisions for Pregnant School Girls in Tanzania’ – Lucemo Mlewa’s brainchild – explored how to support young women in Tanzania who had had their education disrupted due to pregnancy.

To this end, Ms. Mlewa engaged with eight different religious leaders and professionals, including Archbishop D. Chilongani of the Diocese of Central Tanzania and two doctors, Dr S and Dr Mbogo, on how to set up an educational arrangement for pregnant school students and young mothers in the Dodoma area of central Tanzania.

Based on her research, Ms. Mlewa was able to create an outline of how a safe space for learning could be provided, empowering and enabling these young women to access the tuition that they needed to complete their education.

Maelona Betts

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Wales Fellow

Maelona Betts’s project – the ‘Museum Interpretation Video’ – unwrapped the subliminal messaging in artworks exhibited at the National Museum Cardiff. Selected paintings that represented sexual harassment and objectification were filmed and video interpretations of these images were then produced.

The video was presented at an Africa-oriented celebration of International Women’s Day, nonetheless reaching a wide audience including non-black people.

Umulkhayr Mohamed

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Wales Fellow

Umulkhayr Mohamed’s TuWezeshe project, named ‘DisPlace Talks’, used methods from Somali poetry to encourage intergenerational conversations about Gender-Based Violence. Ms. Mohamed invited young Somali women to reconnect with the expressive art forms of their culture by creating their own Somali poems, on topics related to Gender-Based Violence. At the same time, DisPlace Talks also allowed older Somali women to have their voices heard. This approach was especially powerful in counteracting the women’s experiences of (specifically) emotional gender-based violence, as this form of Gender-Based Violence attacks a women’s sense of self and agency.

Ms. Mohamed then produced a short film, using both the poetry and the conversations that she had had in the first phase of the project. The resulting short film was able to address a number of commonly held, unhelpful misconceptions about how black Muslim women face, and react to, Gender-Based Violence.

Somaliland Fellows

Asma Omar Ahmed

Asma Omar Ahmed Somaliland Fellow

Asma Yusuf Salan

Asma Yusuf Salan Somaliland Fellow

Fadumo Mohamoud Ibrahim

Fadumo Mohamoud Ibrahim Somaliland Fellow

Farah Mohamed Yusuf

Farah Mohamed Yusuf Somaliland Fellow

Fatima Hussein Hassan

Fatima Hussein Hassan Somaliland Fellow

Hamda Ali Abdillahi

Hamda Ali Abdillahi Somaliland Fellow

Hamda Hamud Amiin

Hamda Hamud Amiin Somaliland Fellow

Hasna Hassan Dahir

Hasna Hassan Dahir Somaliland Fellow

Khadija Abdirahman Jama

Khadija Abdirahman Jama Somaliland Fellow

Khadra Ali Nuur

Khadra Ali Nuur Somaliland Fellow

Mariam Ibrahim Dahir

Mariam Ibrahim Dahir Somaliland Fellow

Mariam Omar Adil

Mariam Omar Adil Somaliland Fellow

Maryama Ali Mohamud Sa’ed

Maryama Ali Mohamud Sa’ed Somaliland Fellow

Nimco Abdi Isse

Nimco Abdi Isse Somaliland Fellow

Nimco Mohamed Abdirahman

Nimco Mohamed Abdirahman Somaliland Fellow

Nura Salaad Ali,

Nura Salaad Ali, Somaliland Fellow

Nusayaba Abdirahman Jama,

Nusayaba Abdirahman Jama, Somaliland Fellow

Rahma

Rahma Somaliland Fellow

Samiya Abdi Mohamed

Samiya Abdi Mohamed Somaliland Fellow

Asma Omar Ahmed

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Somaliland Fellow

Nura Salaad Ali’s, Nusayaba Abdirahman Jama’s and Asma Omar Ahmed’s Social Action Project – ‘Zero Tolerance of FGM/FGC and GBV Advocacy’ – aimed to fight against Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (GBV) and the practices of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and Female Genital Cutting (FGC).

In Togdheer (Somaliland), where the project took place, the three women firstly carried out a range of  awareness-raising activities on Sexual and Gender-Based Violence, in maternal and child health centres and in medical educational institutions, seeking to challenge medical students’ perceptions of Female Genital Mutilation.

Secondly, they engaged with local community women, who were heads of households, through debates and discussions about Sexual and Gender-Based Violence, and about Female Genital Mutilation. The safe spaces created by Ms. Ali, Ms. Jama and Ms. Ahmed enabled the women to express their opinions on these subjects more openly.

As a whole, 78 women, 107 girls and 7 male members of the community were reached through this Social Action Project.

“Being members of TUWEZESHE AKINA DADA, we believe we have a sense of power within that we want to shine on others.”

Asma Yusuf Salan

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Somaliland Fellow

Asma Yusuf Salan’s, Samiya Abdi Mohamed’s and Mariam Omar Adil’s joint Social Action Project, named ‘End of Female Genital Mutilation (Cutting)’, increased awareness of Female Genital Mutilation in the project’s target community in Sahil (Somaliland). This was achieved by providing clear information about the different types of Female Genital Mutilation and the injurious complications caused by the practice.

Several different actions were conducted over the course of the project. These included a community awareness campaign, carried out in Magalo, a Female Genital Mutilation awareness-raising session for school girls in Barbara, and critical discussions with traditional birth attendants in several locations. Overall, Ms. Salan, Ms. Mohamed and Ms. Adil reached 65 women and girls and 35 men and boys. In addition, they were successful in getting the majority of the people they interacted with to sign a petition, agreeing not to perform Female Genital Mutilation on their daughters.

Fadumo Mohamoud Ibrahim

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Somaliland Fellow

Another joint Social Action Project, designed and implemented by Fadumo Mohamoud Ibrahim, Hamda Hamud Amiin and Mariam Ibrahim Dahir, raised awareness on the life-threatening effects of Female Genital Mutilation among girls, young women, mothers, traditional cutters and female elders in Adwal (Somaliland).

Over the course of the project, entitled ‘Awareness-Raising about FGM’, a series of sessions were conducted to educate members of the community about the health implications of Female Genital Mutilation (i.e. FGM) and challenge the notion that performing it on the community’s girls is a religious obligation. Furthermore, the project’s initiators conducted a survey among supporters of Female Genital Mutilation and traditional cutters, in order to ascertain the reasons why they continue the practice.

Overall, Ms. Ibrahim, Ms. Amiin and Ms. Dahir engaged with 60 women and girls through the project’s activities and reached 100 more people through Facebook.

Farah Mohamed Yusuf

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Somaliland Fellow

Farah Mohamed Yusuf and Hamda Ali Abdillah ran a Social Action Project in Hargeisa (Somaliland), entitled ‘Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) – Awareness-Raising’. Over the course of the project, they ran Female Genital Mutilation awareness campaigns around Hargeisa and held discussions with local health workers, such as midwives and nurses, about the life-threatening health consequences of Female Genital Mutilation.

In addition, the health workers were advised on ways in which they could pass this knowledge on to other women and girls to accelerate the total abandonment of this cultural practice. The health workers subsequently engaged with 89 mothers, who in turn understood the risks associated with Female Genital Mutilation and the vital importance of ending this practice. Once they were better informed on the risks associated with the practice, most of the women signed a petition campaigning for the total abandonment of Female Genital Mutilation in their region.

Fatima Hussein Hassan

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Somaliland Fellow

FGM and Child Marriage Awareness’, the TuWezeshe Social Action Project that Hasna Hassan Dahir, Maryama Ali Mohamud Sa’ed and Fatima Hussein Hassan conducted in Sanaag (Somaliland), was split into two distinct areas of activity, focussing respectively on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and on child marriage.

On the one hand, the three fellows hosted a Female Genital Mutilation campaign event at Barwaqo’s maternal and child health hall, attended by 80 mothers. This gathering sought to improve the audience’s understanding of Female Genital Mutilation and of its consequences, and to mobilise and motivate the women to take part in anti-Female Genital Mutilation activities in the community.

The second activity, on the other hand, was held at Jeember primary school. 120 students participated in sessions tailored to build their capacity and to educate them on the health risks of child marriage.

At the end of the Social Action Project all the participants agreed to sign a petition to end Female Genital Mutilation.

 

Hamda Ali Abdillahi

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Somaliland Fellow

Farah Mohamed Yusuf and Hamda Ali Abdillah ran a Social Action Project in Hargeisa (Somaliland), entitled ‘Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) – Awareness-Raising’. Over the course of the project, they ran Female Genital Mutilation awareness campaigns around Hargeisa and held discussions with local health workers, such as midwives and nurses, about the life-threatening health consequences of Female Genital Mutilation.

In addition, the health workers were advised on ways in which they could pass this knowledge on to other women and girls to accelerate the total abandonment of this cultural practice. The health workers subsequently engaged with 89 mothers, who in turn understood the risks associated with Female Genital Mutilation and the vital importance of ending this practice. Once they were better informed on the risks associated with the practice, most of the women signed a petition campaigning for the total abandonment of Female Genital Mutilation in their region.

Hamda Hamud Amiin

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Somaliland Fellow

Another joint Social Action Project, designed and implemented by Fadumo Mohamoud Ibrahim, Hamda Hamud Amiin and Mariam Ibrahim Dahir, raised awareness on the life-threatening effects of Female Genital Mutilation among girls, young women, mothers, traditional cutters and female elders in Adwal (Somaliland).

Over the course of the project, entitled ‘Awareness-Raising about FGM’, a series of sessions were conducted to educate members of the community about the health implications of Female Genital Mutilation (i.e. FGM) and challenge the notion that performing it on the community’s girls is a religious obligation. Furthermore, the project’s initiators conducted a survey among supporters of Female Genital Mutilation and traditional cutters, in order to ascertain the reasons why they continue the practice.

Overall, Ms. Ibrahim, Ms. Amiin and Ms. Dahir engaged with 60 women and girls through the project’s activities and reached 100 more people through Facebook.

Hasna Hassan Dahir

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Somaliland Fellow

FGM and Child Marriage Awareness’, the TuWezeshe Social Action Project that Hasna Hassan Dahir, Maryama Ali Mohamud Sa’ed and Fatima Hussein Hassan conducted in Sanaag (Somaliland), was split into two distinct areas of activity, focussing respectively on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and on child marriage.

On the one hand, the three fellows hosted a Female Genital Mutilation campaign event at Barwaqo’s maternal and child health hall, attended by 80 mothers. This gathering sought to improve the audience’s understanding of Female Genital Mutilation and of its consequences, and to mobilise and motivate the women to take part in anti-Female Genital Mutilation activities in the community.

The second activity, on the other hand, was held at Jeember primary school. 120 students participated in sessions tailored to build their capacity and to educate them on the health risks of child marriage.

At the end of the Social Action Project all the participants agreed to sign a petition to end Female Genital Mutilation.

Khadija Abdirahman Jama

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Somaliland Fellow

Nimco Abdi Isse’s, Khadra Ali Nuur’s and Khadija Abdirahman Jama’s Social Action Project took place in Sool (Somaliland). The project, entitled ‘Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) – Awareness-Raising with Fathers and Boys, as well as Mothers and TBAs over 2 Days’, involved organising separate awareness-raising sessions for a range of different groups, including mothers, grandmothers, girls, traditional birth attendants (TBAs), traditional leaders, religious leaders, fathers and boys.

Over the course of these sessions, Ms. Isse, Ms. Nuur and Ms. Jama explained the destructive effects of Female Genital Mutilation and promoted the value of all girls, including those who haven’t been cut. Overall, through these sessions, they reached 75 women (mothers, grandmothers, TBAs) and 15 fathers and boys.

All participants in the sessions agreed that, knowing what they now knew, they would not continue to practice Female Genital Mutilation on the females of their families and that, from this point on, they would think more about the future and health of their daughters.

Khadra Ali Nuur

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Somaliland Fellow

Nimco Abdi Isse’s, Khadra Ali Nuur’s and Khadija Abdirahman Jama’s Social Action Project took place in Sool (Somaliland). The project, entitled ‘Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) – Awareness-Raising with Fathers and Boys, as well as Mothers and TBAs over 2 Days’, involved organising separate awareness-raising sessions for a range of different groups, including mothers, grandmothers, girls, traditional birth attendants (TBAs), traditional leaders, religious leaders, fathers and boys.

Over the course of these sessions, Ms. Isse, Ms. Nuur and Ms. Jama explained the destructive effects of Female Genital Mutilation and promoted the value of all girls, including those who haven’t been cut. Overall, through these sessions, they reached 75 women (mothers, grandmothers, TBAs) and 15 fathers and boys.

All participants in the sessions agreed that, knowing what they now knew, they would not continue to practice Female Genital Mutilation on the females of their families and that, from this point on, they would think more about the future and health of their daughters.

Mariam Ibrahim Dahir

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Somaliland Fellow

Another joint Social Action Project, designed and implemented by Fadumo Mohamoud Ibrahim, Hamda Hamud Amiin and Mariam Ibrahim Dahir, raised awareness on the life-threatening effects of Female Genital Mutilation among girls, young women, mothers, traditional cutters and female elders in Adwal (Somaliland).

Over the course of the project, entitled ‘Awareness-Raising about FGM’, a series of sessions were conducted to educate members of the community about the health implications of Female Genital Mutilation (i.e. FGM) and challenge the notion that performing it on the community’s girls is a religious obligation. Furthermore, the project’s initiators conducted a survey among supporters of Female Genital Mutilation and traditional cutters, in order to ascertain the reasons why they continue the practice.

Overall, Ms. Ibrahim, Ms. Amiin and Ms. Dahir engaged with 60 women and girls through the project’s activities and reached 100 more people through Facebook.

Mariam Omar Adil

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Somaliland Fellow

Asma Yusuf Salan’s, Samiya Abdi Mohamed’s and Mariam Omar Adil’s joint Social Action Project, named ‘End of Female Genital Mutilation (Cutting)’, increased awareness of Female Genital Mutilation in the project’s target community in Sahil (Somaliland). This was achieved by providing clear information about the different types of Female Genital Mutilation and the injurious complications caused by the practice.

Several different actions were conducted over the course of the project. These included a community awareness campaign, carried out in Magalo, a Female Genital Mutilation awareness-raising session for school girls in Barbara, and critical discussions with traditional birth attendants in several locations. Overall, Ms. Salan, Ms. Mohamed and Ms. Adil reached 65 women and girls and 35 men and boys. In addition, they were successful in getting the majority of the people they interacted with to sign a petition, agreeing not to perform Female Genital Mutilation on their daughters.

Maryama Ali Mohamud Sa’ed

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Somaliland Fellow

FGM and Child Marriage Awareness’, the TuWezeshe Social Action Project that Hasna Hassan Dahir, Maryama Ali Mohamud Sa’ed and Fatima Hussein Hassan conducted in Sanaag (Somaliland), was split into two distinct areas of activity, focussing respectively on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and on child marriage.

On the one hand, the three fellows hosted a Female Genital Mutilation campaign event at Barwaqo’s maternal and child health hall, attended by 80 mothers. This gathering sought to improve the audience’s understanding of Female Genital Mutilation and of its consequences, and to mobilise and motivate the women to take part in anti-Female Genital Mutilation activities in the community.

The second activity, on the other hand, was held at Jeember primary school. 120 students participated in sessions tailored to build their capacity and to educate them on the health risks of child marriage.

At the end of the Social Action Project all the participants agreed to sign a petition to end Female Genital Mutilation.

Nimco Abdi Isse

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Somaliland Fellow

Nimco Abdi Isse’s, Khadra Ali Nuur’s and Khadija Abdirahman Jama’s Social Action Project took place in Sool (Somaliland). The project, entitled ‘Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) – Awareness-Raising with Fathers and Boys, as well as Mothers and TBAs over 2 Days’, involved organising separate awareness-raising sessions for a range of different groups, including mothers, grandmothers, girls, traditional birth attendants (TBAs), traditional leaders, religious leaders, fathers and boys.

Over the course of these sessions, Ms. Isse, Ms. Nuur and Ms. Jama explained the destructive effects of Female Genital Mutilation and promoted the value of all girls, including those who haven’t been cut. Overall, through these sessions, they reached 75 women (mothers, grandmothers, TBAs) and 15 fathers and boys.

All participants in the sessions agreed that, knowing what they now knew, they would not continue to practice Female Genital Mutilation on the females of their families and that, from this point on, they would think more about the future and health of their daughters.

Nimco Mohamed Abdirahman

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Somaliland Fellow

Female Genital Mutilation – Awareness-Raising Focussing on FGM’, the TuWezeshe project carried out by Nimco Mohamed Abdirahman and Rahma, in its first stage visited three maternal and child health centres in Marodijeh (Somaliland) to discuss the risks associated with Female Genital Mutilation. The fellows met with pregnant women and mothers explaining to them the problems surrounding Female Genital Mutilation and its effects on society.

Aside from these discussions in health clinics, they also held focus group discussions with grandmothers, several of which were followed by home visits. The two TuWezeshe fellows were supported during the project by their mentor, Dr Mariam, who held further sessions in the community to reinforce the young activists’ messages. Overall, their Social Action Project reached 100 people.

“If you’re providing awareness, you shouldn’t always wait [for] people to gather and come to you; you’ve to go to them and visit them, [so that] they’ll respect you and listen to you carefully, and the information will meet its target audiences.’’

Nura Salaad Ali,

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Somaliland Fellow

Nura Salaad Ali’s, Nusayaba Abdirahman Jama’s and Asma Omar Ahmed’s Social Action Project – ‘Zero Tolerance of FGM/FGC and GBV Advocacy’ – aimed to fight against Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (GBV) and the practices of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and Female Genital Cutting (FGC).

In Togdheer (Somaliland), where the project took place, the three women firstly carried out a range of  awareness-raising activities on Sexual and Gender-Based Violence, in maternal and child health centres and in medical educational institutions, seeking to challenge medical students’ perceptions of Female Genital Mutilation.

Secondly, they engaged with local community women, who were heads of households, through debates and discussions about Sexual and Gender-Based Violence, and about Female Genital Mutilation. The safe spaces created by Ms. Ali, Ms. Jama and Ms. Ahmed enabled the women to express their opinions on these subjects more openly.

As a whole, 78 women, 107 girls and 7 male members of the community were reached through this Social Action Project.

“Being members of TUWEZESHE AKINA DADA, we believe we have a sense of power within that we want to shine on others.”

Nusayaba Abdirahman Jama,

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Somaliland Fellow

Nura Salaad Ali’s, Nusayaba Abdirahman Jama’s and Asma Omar Ahmed’s Social Action Project – ‘Zero Tolerance of FGM/FGC and GBV Advocacy’ – aimed to fight against Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (GBV) and the practices of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and Female Genital Cutting (FGC).

In Togdheer (Somaliland), where the project took place, the three women firstly carried out a range of  awareness-raising activities on Sexual and Gender-Based Violence, in maternal and child health centres and in medical educational institutions, seeking to challenge medical students’ perceptions of Female Genital Mutilation.

Secondly, they engaged with local community women, who were heads of households, through debates and discussions about Sexual and Gender-Based Violence, and about Female Genital Mutilation. The safe spaces created by Ms. Ali, Ms. Jama and Ms. Ahmed enabled the women to express their opinions on these subjects more openly.

As a whole, 78 women, 107 girls and 7 male members of the community were reached through this Social Action Project.

“Being members of TUWEZESHE AKINA DADA, we believe we have a sense of power within that we want to shine on others.”

Rahma

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Somaliland Fellow

Female Genital Mutilation – Awareness-Raising Focussing on FGM’, the TuWezeshe project carried out by Nimco Mohamed Abdirahman and Rahma, in its first stage visited three maternal and child health centres in Marodijeh (Somaliland) to discuss the risks associated with Female Genital Mutilation. The fellows met with pregnant women and mothers explaining to them the problems surrounding Female Genital Mutilation and its effects on society.

Aside from these discussions in health clinics, they also held focus group discussions with grandmothers, several of which were followed by home visits. The two TuWezeshe fellows were supported during the project by their mentor, Dr Mariam, who held further sessions in the community to reinforce the young activists’ messages. Overall, their Social Action Project reached 100 people.

“If you’re providing awareness, you shouldn’t always wait [for] people to gather and come to you; you’ve to go to them and visit them, [so that] they’ll respect you and listen to you carefully, and the information will meet its target audiences.’’

Samiya Abdi Mohamed

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Somaliland Fellow

Asma Yusuf Salan’s, Samiya Abdi Mohamed’s and Mariam Omar Adil’s joint Social Action Project, named ‘End of Female Genital Mutilation (Cutting)’, increased awareness of Female Genital Mutilation in the project’s target community in Sahil (Somaliland). This was achieved by providing clear information about the different types of Female Genital Mutilation and the injurious complications caused by the practice.

Several different actions were conducted over the course of the project. These included a community awareness campaign, carried out in Magalo, a Female Genital Mutilation awareness-raising session for school girls in Barbara, and critical discussions with traditional birth attendants in several locations. Overall, Ms. Salan, Ms. Mohamed and Ms. Adil reached 65 women and girls and 35 men and boys. In addition, they were successful in getting the majority of the people they interacted with to sign a petition, agreeing not to perform Female Genital Mutilation on their daughters.

Uganda Fellows

Aidah Bakunzi

Aidah Bakunzi Uganda Fellow

Akur Lucy Okwera

Akur Lucy Okwera Uganda Fellow

Angela Asiimwe

Angela Asiimwe Uganda Fellow

Annabelle Nakabiri

Annabelle Nakabiri Uganda Fellow

Betty Mujungu Tusiime

Betty Mujungu Tusiime Uganda Fellow

Bridget Nasasiira

Bridget Nasasiira Uganda Fellow

Ednah Kukundakwe

Ednah Kukundakwe Uganda Fellow

Esther Juliet Apio

Esther Juliet Apio Uganda Fellow

Fionah Komusana

Fionah Komusana Uganda Fellow

Gloria Mutyaba

Gloria Mutyaba Uganda Fellow

Harriet Karen Mukajambo

Harriet Karen Mukajambo Uganda Fellow

Janet Nanayengo

Janet Nanayengo Uganda Fellow

Joanita Irene Najjuko

Joanita Irene Najjuko Uganda Fellow

Jovia Apio

Jovia Apio Uganda Fellow

Jovulean Itungu

Jovulean Itungu Uganda Fellow

Margaret Joan Nafula

Margaret Joan Nafula Uganda Fellow

Mariam Nyanzi

Mariam Nyanzi Uganda Fellow

Maurine Bukirwa

Maurine Bukirwa Uganda Fellow

Pamela Kyohairwe

Pamela Kyohairwe Uganda Fellow

Patricia Humura

Patricia Humura Uganda Fellow

Patricia Kajumba

Patricia Kajumba Uganda Fellow

Phiona Namazzi

Phiona Namazzi Uganda Fellow

Ruth Atim

Ruth Atim Uganda Fellow

Sandra Kwikiriza

Sandra Kwikiriza Uganda Fellow

Sandra Namususwa

Sandra Namususwa Uganda Fellow

Saviour Nakakembo

Saviour Nakakembo Uganda Fellow

Sharon Lunya

Sharon Lunya Uganda Fellow

Shira Natenda

Shira Natenda Uganda Fellow

Stella Kijange Lajiri

Stella Kijange Lajiri Uganda Fellow

Sumaya Nalubega

Sumaya Nalubega Uganda Fellow

Susan Aciro

Susan Aciro Uganda Fellow

Tendo Namata

Tendo Namata Uganda Fellow

Aidah Bakunzi

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Uganda Fellow

Aidah Bakunzi came from a different world of work, focussing on technology, with little awareness of the inequalities rife in the world of Information, Communication and Technology (ICT).

Her TuWezeshe Social Action Project – entitled ‘Ideal Peer Support Innovation’ – provided an opportunity to use these technologies to address the issue of digital insecurity, while advocating for justice and positive policies for women and girls in technology spaces. The project sought to raise young women’s awareness of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence and of the digital safe spaces that are available to them. Thanks to Ms. Bakunzi’s project, over 300 young women and girls in Wakiso district learned about the threats involved in internet usage and how best to address the challenges of cyber insecurity.

Following the completion of her TuWezeshe project, Ms. Bakunzi received a placement at the Safe Sisters’ Fellowship for human rights defenders, where she  was subsequently certified as a digital security trainer. Ms. Bakunzi is currently co-lead at the Fellowship and in charge of organising activities that address women in technology. This work seeks to promote leadership by women and to bridge the digital gender gap in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines, in cooperation with Google’s Women Tech Makers initiative.

‘I am very grateful for TuWezeshe. Because of the fellowship, I gained a lot [of] knowledge that has enabled me get funds to carry out various digital security training [initiatives] to address online Gender-Based Violence internationally and locally.’

Akur Lucy Okwera

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Uganda Fellow

For her Social Action Project in Pader district, ‘Breaking the Chain of Child Motherhood among the Lords Resistance Army War Victims’, Akur Lucy Okwera created a safe space where young women  could share open conversations on critical issues affecting them. The project equipped 30 teenage mothers and 30 girls attending school with skills and knowledge on menstrual hygiene, Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights, soap-making and basic business management skills. This training programme in turn led to the creation of a Village Savings and Loan Association called This is Us, enabling 30 young women to borrow money to support their business ventures. The young mothers are now able to provide for their families – with food, clothing and the payment of school fees.

‘One of the most important things I learned during the Tuwezeshe training is about the power of self-care. I learned that for you to be able to give to others, ‘your cup must be full’ first. Being part of this training awakened me and clearly showed me the direction of my career.’

Angela Asiimwe

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Uganda Fellow

Through her Social Action Project, entitled ‘Ending GBV in Slums and Communities’, Angela Asiimwe ultimately reached 180 community members in the urban slum of Kyambogo. Her project raised awareness of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence among representatives of the judiciary, representatives of development partners,  a district police commander, and 52 teenage mothers, among others.

Ms. Asiimwe reached a further 2,000,000 people through Twitter chats and radio talks about sexual harassment on the Gender Forum UBC and on Capital Smart TV. During Women’s Week in Uganda, Ms. Asiimwe conducted campaigns at 16 schools in Southwestern Uganda, reaching 500 girls overall. She also proceeded to create girls’ clubs in five schools in Luwero district, which have trained more than 600 schoolgirls in Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights and in feminist advocacy. The clubs have enhanced the girls’ competencies in various areas, including organising and mobilising campaigns for social change, higher self-esteem, and public speaking.

Ms. Asiimwe has further been a member of the Advisory Board of the International Rescue Committee (IRC), advocating for the inclusion of all women and girls in responses to emergencies featuring Gender-Based Violence, and she has co-piloted the #MeToo Index in Uganda, Lebanon and Nigeria. She currently runs several blogs, examples of which can be found at: https://angelaassiimwe.wordpress.com/

‘The leadership skills and knowledge I attained inspired me to start a legal and media consultancy firm known as Voice Consults Ltd. It aims [to promote and protect the] human rights of marginalised groups of women, children and people with disabilities through online campaigns and legal aid provision.’

Annabelle Nakabiri

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Uganda Fellow

After her TuWezeshe fellowship’s training component, Annabelle Nakabiri realised that one of the most insightful areas of learning for her had been on the concept of feminist leadership. Although she directed a pregnancy crisis centre – a women-led organisation – she realised that she was practising elements of patriarchy. For this reason, she implemented her TuWezeshe Social Action Project at her own centre in Kampala: the Remnant Generation offices in Busega.

Ms. Nakabiri’s project, Equipped For Impact’, targeted thirteen of the centre’s staff and two volunteers; these team members were the primary beneficiaries of the project. Their achievements included, among others, the review and refinement of organisational policies and procedures in order to identify and resolve any gender gaps. As a result, new policies were developed in the areas of effective case management, human resources management, and collaboration with other actors and stakeholders, while the Reminant Generation centre’s internal administrative operations were also streamlined.

What is more, Ms. Nakabiri and her team developed a new 5-year strategic plan for the centre and released the first edition of a new publication, The Reminant Generation Magazine, in which they shared lessons learnt, stories of impact, challenges and successes from the centre’s work. The magazine seeks to inform key stakeholders and civil service organisations for advocacy purposes, to stimulate policy reviews, and to promote programmes that support abused girls and teenage mothers.

‘As a survivor of sexual abuse and child marriage, my passion has always been helping as many [as possible of the] girls and young women [who] have been through similar experiences. The lessons and reflections from the TuWezeshe fellowship helped deepen my passion and ambition.’

Betty Mujungu Tusiime

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Let Her Smile’, Betty Mujungu Tusiime’s Social Action Project, directly engaged with over 800 people – seeking to restore hope and end all violence against women and girls in the Tooro region. Furthermore, through her project, she has indirectly reached over 1,000,000 more people, using film and radio discussions to educate and mobilise communities about the need to fight against Gender-Based Violence in Tooro whilst pushing for a change in attitudes and perceptions about women and girls.

Among the other achievements of Let Her Smile, there has been an increase in the reporting of Gender-Based Violence issues and violations of human rights – including girl child education – in Tooro communities. Most community leaders have become responsive to ending violence. Ms. Tusiime has become well-known in the region as a leading voice demanding women’s and girls’ freedom and rights.

We should speak out; silence is more painful than pain itself.’

Bridget Nasasiira

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Bridget Nasasiira implemented her Social Action Project, ‘Eliminating GBV Among Women through Awareness Creation  (through Self-Help Groups)’, in Bushenyi district, Western Uganda, where she raised awareness among women and other community stakeholders on Gender-Based Violence (i.e. “GBV”) and the  channels through which survivors of such violence could access justice. In total, the project provided training to 50 women and 20 other stakeholders from Bushenyi, including district leadership.

In addition, Ms. Nasasiira built partnerships with the local police forces, helping them to put in place stringent measures to curb Sexual and Gender-Based Violence.

My participation in the TuWezeshe [programme] has seen me take [on] more responsibilities in my community and work as a voice [for] the voiceless. I still work with the groups that I engaged [during] the project and they have created a great impact in their communities and families.’

Christine Nakayiza (Tina Owengeye)

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Christine Nakayiza (Tina Owengeye) carried out a Social Action Project entitled ‘Social Media in Relation to Sexual and Gender-Based Violence among Lesbian, Bisexual And Queer Women’. The project targeted lesbian, bisexual and queer women with diverse backgrounds and set out to end Sexual and Gender-Based Violence against them in Ntinda parish (Kampala). To this end, Ms. Nakayiza conducted a dialogue in Ntinda parish, during which 32 LBQ women were taught how to use social media to discuss topics related to Sexual and Gender-Based Violence – and to report incidents. The participants in the dialogue also discussed the current laws in Uganda on Sexual and Gender-Based Violence, online violence and the various ways of reporting violence. Finally, some self-care sessions were also held.

In addition, Ms. Nakayiza herself used online media, including Twitter and Facebook, to engage people on these topics. As a result of her Social Action Project, more LBQ people are now aware of the existence of different forms of Gender-Based Violence and of what can be done to address them. The LBQ women trained by the project were among the Ugandan activists who championed the ‘end rape culture’ campaign on social media in January 2020, in which perpetrators of rape were publicly named and shamed on social networks.

‘The TuWezeshe project taught me that it is never too late to end Sexual and Gender-Based Violence.’

Ednah Kukundakwe

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Ednah Kukundakwe’s  Social Action Project, ‘ICT for Gender Equality’, empowered girls with computing and information technology skills. The girls learned to use technology  as both a tool of advocacy against Gender-Based Violence and for their own economic empowerment. Ms. Kukundakwe specifically targeted girls who had dropped out of school in the slum areas of Mpererwe Wakiso. In total, Ms. Kukundakwe’s project reached 200 primary school pupils, 25 girls who had dropped out of school, 12 local community stakeholders and 2 social media influencers.

Partnering with local area leaders, churches and the police, Ms. Kukundakwe trained the 25 girls  who were no longer attending school to use social media to share their stories of sexual harassment, to undertake evidence-based advocacy and to amplify their voices on the subject of sexual harassment – a key outcome of the training. Furthermore, the project paved the way for these girls to develop small retail businesses (baking cakes and cookies, opening hair care saloons), for which Ms. Kukundakwe collaborated with Ms. Nyanzi.

Do not underestimate the power of a woman who knows the power that lies within her. TuWezeshe enabled me to understand the power of a woman.’

Esther Juliet Apio

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Fighting Teenage Pregnancy through Media and Communication in Karamoja Region’, Esther Apio’s Social Action Project, raised awareness among teenage mothers and women leaders on the challenges of teenage pregnancy. The teenage mothers she trained have used the knowledge and skills they acquired both to improve their own lives, and to share it with and empower others.

Ms. Apio has established a community-based organisation called Karamoja Women Advocacy Initiative, through which she continues to empower more women to join the path towards the creation of positive change and opportunities for the women and girls in Karamoja.

‘Participating in TuWezeshe has given me a ladder, which I have directly used for promoting and encouraging change in my community. It has opened [up] a whole new world to me; it has enabled me to see things through [a] feminist lens.’

Fionah Komusana

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Fionah Komusana and Joanita Irenece Najjuko implemented the ‘Hub4Her’ project, which opened up a safe space for conversations on feminism and sexual harassment among female university students. Through Hub4Her, they made it safe for young women to discuss and share stories and narratives in an encouraging, healing and reaffirming space, giving the students an opportunity to create and implement solutions to situations that are oppressive to young women in tertiary institutions.

As a result, the participating young female students at the Uganda Christian University (UCU) unlearned patriarchal teachings and shared their stories of sexual harassment, while healing together and encouraging each other to stand up for their rights. 35 young women are continuing to move the project forwards as they advocate for a university-wide sexual harassment policy and implement a #CampusMeToo campaign at the university, demanding a safe learning environment for all students.

‘TuWezeshe helped me [to] understand why naming myself as a feminist is important. I learned that the only work worth doing is [work] for women. This has shaped the way I choose work opportunities, as well as my writing, to [fully] reflect my feminist politics’.

Gloria Mutyaba

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Gloria Mutyaba carried out her Social Action Project on ‘Overcoming Pain: Stories of LBQ who have Suffered Intimate Partner Violence’. During the project, 25 lesbian, bisexual and queer (LBQ) women where supported  to tell their stories of Intimate Partner Violence and to recover their emotional and physical wellbeing through artistic expression.

Ms. Mutyaba equipped the women with greater knowledge and awareness of the issues surrounding Sexual and Gender-Based Violence and taught them about the emergency response system that they can use in case of violence. Over the course of the project, an archive of stories of violence faced by lesbian, bisexual and queer women was created. It has since been used in advocacy and awareness-raising actions targetting key stakeholders, to inform them of the effects of intimate partner violence among the lesbian, bisexual and queer community.

Ms. Mutyaba continues to use artistic expression as a tool to tell stories of violence faced by lesbian, bisexual and queer women in Uganda. In December 2019, she was invited to speak at the Safe Havens conference in Cape Town (South Africa); her chosen topic highlighted the experiences of creative women at risk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DnB3EgPWCfI

 ‘My experience in TuWezeshe led me to grow [and to become] a better leader, for myself and for the younger, upcoming LBQ leaders that look up to me for inspiration.’

Harriet Karen Mukajambo

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Through her Social Action Project, ‘Challenge 5 Alliance’, Harriet Karen Mukajambo enhanced the knowledge and skills of 155 young women in Wakiso and Kampala on the topic of sexual harassment. The participants gained greater awareneness of their rights and the existing reporting mechanisms for cases of Gender-Based Violence, as well as of their collective power to fight against sexual harassment. Through youth training and sensitisation sessions, dialogues, debates and advocacy meetings, Ms. Mukajambo’s project targeted teachers, students and parents and reached 1210 members of the public in total.

The 155 young people have cascaded the skills and knowledge that they gained from the training to their communities, in turn sensitising them to the effects of Gender-Based Violence and to the reporting systems that are already in place. Last but not least, building on her Social Action Project, Ms. Mukajambo provided capacity-building support to 6 volunteers, who then went on to conduct their own step-down training programmes for youth in their communities in Kampala.

‘Participating in the TuWezeshe project encouraged me to develop my feminist leadership principles, [in order] to advocate for [the end of] Sexual and Gender-Based Violence.’

Janet Nanayengo

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Janet Nanayengo leveraged the power of storytelling in her Social Action Project to document the impacts of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence experienced by refugee girls and women in Bidi Bidi Refugee Settlement.  For her documentation, she interviewed 32 people and compiled their stories into a report entitled  ‘Unmasking the Gender-Based Violence Ghost among Refugee Girls and Women in Bidi Bidi Refugee Settlement’.

The report was subsequently used by the International Rescue Committee in its evidence-based advocacy on the subject. More generally, Ms. Nanayengo’s report contributed to the growing knowledge base on Sexual and Gender-Based Violence among refugee girls and women, and provided an enhanced interpretation of the problems, their underlying causes and their impacts. The report also gave recommendations – aimed at the local, national and international processes concerning the camp – suggesting effective interventions that could be considered in Bidi Bidi Refugee Settlement to improve the situation.

Over the course of this project, Ms. Nanayengo reached out to 40 people in the refugee settlement overall. As a result, these young people’s knowledge and awareness of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence has been enhanced.

‘The TuWezeshe Fellowship is a must-attend leadership training that empowers women to stand up for their rights and for the rights of others.’

Joanita Irene Najjuko

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Uganda Fellow

Joanita Irenece Najjuko and Fionah Komusana implemented the ‘Hub4Her’ project, which opened up a safe space for conversations on feminism and sexual harassment among female university students. Through Hub4Her, they made it safe for young women to discuss and share stories and narratives in an encouraging, healing and reaffirming space, giving the students an opportunity to create and implement solutions to situations that are oppressive to young women in tertiary institutions.

As a result, the participating young female students at the Uganda Christian University (UCU) unlearned patriarchal teachings and shared their stories of sexual harassment, while healing together and encouraging each other to stand up for their rights. 35 young women are continuing to move the project forwards as they advocate for a university-wide sexual harassment policy and implement a #CampusMeToo campaign at the university, demanding a safe learning environment for all students.

Ms. Najjuko – ‘The training showed me that I could be involved in the fight against [the] patriarchy with small changes in my daily life, like standing up and speaking back to power and oppressive structures and systems’.

Jovia Apio

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Jovia Apio implemented her Social Action Project, ‘Get A Voice Girl!’, at OPar Primary School in Soroti district. Through her project, 60 school girls and 30 school boys gained knowledge of children’s rights, the risk factors that can increase girls’ vulnerability, and prevention and reporting of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence. Ms Apio’s project used creative sports, games and other strategies to highlight and increase the participants’ agency. Furthermore, the project trained a cohort of four life-coach volunteers who contine to enhance the skills of boys and girls at the school, using sports as a vehicle in the fight against Gender-Based Violence in the district.

‘TuWezeshe Akina Dada inspired me both personally and professionally to wear the gender lens when making decisions in spaces of influence, or in rooms where I am the least significant person.’

Jovulean Itungu

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Jovulean Itungu’s project, the ‘Every Girl 2 a Pad Campaign’, enabled girls in Bunyangabu district (Western Uganda) to break free of the stigma surrounding menstruation and empowered them to stay in school. The 70 girls trained by Ms. Itungu’s project are now able make re-usable sanitary towels and are more knowledgeable about sexual and reproductive health. Even the girls’ parents have become more supportive of their female children’s continued education and now seek to keep them in school. This Social Action Project reached a total of 130 community members, including teachers, parents, district leaders and boys and men.

Ms. Itungu is now growing her organisation, the Rossana Health Convoy – a youth-led social enterprise that seeks to minimise menstrual stigma by manufacturing re-usable sanitary pads for girls and women in rural communities, who cannot afford to buy the ones already on the market.

The door that TuWezeshe opened for me was so big, in that it connected me to experienced mentors like Hope Nankunda – my mentor under the project – who inspired me to fight for the promotion and protection of women’s rights.’

Margaret Joan Nafula

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Margaret Joan Nafula’s Social Action Project was entitled ‘Creating Awareness of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence among Lesbian, Bisexual women, Transgender Persons, Queer Women, and Female Sex Workers’; it took place in Kampala and Wakiso.  She reached 47 people, including 42 lesbian, bisexual women, queer women, and female sex workers, and 5 transgender men.

Amongst the project’s multiple achievements, its participants have reported since that there has been a reduction of cases related to Intimate Partner Violence in the community targetted by the project.

The TuWezeshe Akina Dada leadership training introduced me to feminism, power, and patriarchy. Now I believe that, as a woman, I have to be empowered to empower other women out there; I have to be accountable for my actions, as well as fight all forms of patriarchy and discrimination against women.’

Mariam Nyanzi

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Mariam Nyanzi’s project – ‘Beyond the Veil, My Voice, My Faith’ – targeted muslim women in Najjanankumbi, Ndejje and Namasuba Wakiso districts. During the project, she  sensitised them to their rights and discussed strategies to address Gender-Based Violence with them. As a muslim woman, Ms. Nyanzi used her life experiences to  reach out to over 200 women and initiate conversations on the ways in which women in the Muslim community are affected by Gender-Based Violence.

Ms. Nyanzi’s project imparted practical knowledge and information on the women about their basic rights, while also – in collaboration with another TuWezeshe fellow, Ednah Kukundakwe – training them in manufacturing hair shampoo, shaggy mats and carpets, and in commercially baking cakes and cookies. Thanks to their newly acquired skills and self confidence, some participants went on to start hair care saloons, while others set up baked goods businesses to earn an income. Ms. Nyanzi’s Beyond The Veil project has helped these women to be economically independent – their husbands were not providing for their basic needs.

‘Everything starts from you. You just need to do your best and you will deliver – that’s what TuWezeshe taught me.’

Maurine Bukirwa

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Through their ‘Peer Education Social Action Project’, Nakabugo Kyomuhangi and Maurine Bukirwa formed three clubs in five different schools: the Menstrual Girls’ Club, the Human Rights Club and the Tukyogereko Club. These clubs provided spaces for over 90 girls and boys to have open conversations about Gender-Based Violence and to receive sex education.

One of the key achievements of the clubs was to increase the childrens’ awareness of children’s rights at school and in the community. 70% of the young people attending the clubs now possess adequate knowledge of their fundamental rights, as well as other life skills, including menstrual health matters and general positive health practices. Many of the girls and boys have also been able to receive psychosocial support from trained peers. The project’s peer educators have become change agents, reaching out to other voiceless children in schools and at home. In this way, Ms. Kyomuhangi and Ms. Bukirwa have empowered more than 20 vulnerable girls to become self-reliant.

‘TuWezeshe Akina Dada 2017 has raised an informed, passionate and sympathetic woman out of me, always on the go to support fellow women and girls. Our rights are human rights.’

Nakabugo Happiness Kyomuhangi

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Through their ‘Peer Education Social Action Project’, Nakabugo Kyomuhangi and Maurine Bukirwa formed three clubs in five different schools: the Menstrual Girls’ Club, the Human Rights Club and the Tukyogereko Club. These clubs provided spaces for over 90 girls and boys to have open conversations about Gender-Based Violence and to receive sex education.

One of the key achievements of the clubs was to increase the childrens’ awareness of children’s rights at school and in the community. 70% of the young people attending the clubs now possess adequate knowledge of their fundamental rights, as well as other life skills, including menstrual health matters and general positive health practices. Many of the girls and boys have also been able to receive psychosocial support from trained peers. The project’s peer educators have become change agents, reaching out to other voiceless children in schools and at home. In this way, Ms. Kyomuhangi and Ms. Bukirwa have empowered more than 20 vulnerable girls to become self-reliant.

The training has helped improve my leadership skills: making good decisions as a leader in my community. I have been able to discover myself  more, taking on my fears as a woman. AMwA has connected me to different workshops, where I have networked [and] made valuable friendships and partnerships.’

Pamela Kyohairwe

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Pamela Kyohairwe conducted her Social Action Project at Kaiso primary school in Hoima district. Through the project, entitled ‘Menstrual Health Management’, she engaged 267 adolescent girls and boys between the ages of 8 – 15, to enhance their awareness of menstrual hygiene management. Thanks to her project, the girls began to make use of locally made, re-usable menstrual pads. The school improvised a new shelter for the girls to use as a washroom during their menstruation days, to enable them stay on at school full-time. In addition, the project established a “girls’ psychosocial group”, led by 10 girls from the school, to mentor and support fellow girls during menstruation and to boost their confidence. Two girls who had been stigmatised by other school children because of staining on their uniforms were visited and encouraged to return to school with the help of the  girls’ support group.

‘The TuWezeshe fellowship enabled me to believe that there is something stronger than magic, and it’s called sisterhood. It is all I live for!’

Patricia Humura

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Patricia Humura’s Social Action Project enabled her to reach out to close to 5000 people in two districts and beyond. The project, called ‘Demystifying Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) Through Awareness and Sensitisation’, set out to change the attitudes and behaviours of community members, including religious leaders (who hold power in shaping public opinon on Sexual and Gender-Based Violence).

Ms. Humura worked with multiple Anglican, Catholic and Islamic faith leaders, who have continued to provide her with spaces to speak about Gender-Based Violence. At the same time, she has collaborated with two other TuWezeshe Fellows to mentor students from 8 secondary schools and 1 primary school. These mentorship sessions have reached 30 girls to date, enhancing their self-esteem, confidence, competence and organisational skills. Moreover, through her project, two students who had been sexually abused were supported to access justice – and more students continue to speak up.

As a result of the successful implementation of her Social Action Project, Ms. Humura currently sits on the Adolescents/Youth advisory board of the Baylor College of Medicine Children’s Foundation – Uganda.

‘The TuWezeshe project shaped me to be fearless and to advocate without fail. Even if it [has now] ended, I still have a role to play. I will still support my community, because if I were in need of support, someone would be out there waiting for me.’

Patricia Kajumba

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Patricia Kajumba’s Social Action Project, ‘Twekonyere’ (meaning “Let’s help each other”), raised awareness on menstrual hygiene in Hoima district and ensured that young girls in the district were protected against Sexual and Gender-Based Violence, and supported to stay in school.

The project established a Twekonyere girls’ school club, a safe space for the girls in the district, where they are able to come together and share their experiences, create a spirit of sisterhood, and find ways to shatter the boundaries that are holding them back. The project also created an online inspiration platform called “The Twekonyere life stories”.

As a result of Ms. Kajumba’s Social Action Project, unlike before, more young women are now able to speak openly and freely about menstruation and other matters. Her work during the project directly reached over 120 young girls in primary schools both around Hoima and beyond. More on the background to the genesis of her Social Action Project can be read here: http://twekonyereproject.home.blog/2019/11/04/twekonoyere-origin-story/

TuWezeshe has taught me that “creating change is not about the numbers; creating change is about the difference you actually see and feel in life.” Even if it is simply one person. This not only comes with [a greater sense of] wellbeing; above all, [it comes with] satisfaction for [those] who did all they could to make a difference.’

Phiona Namazzi

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Phiona Namazzi’s project targeted 30 young women survivors of trafficking and sexual exploitation in Kampala. The project – named ‘Forever Empowered’ – eventually deepened the knowledge of a total of 46 girls and young women in the areas of gender equality, Gender-Based Violence, Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights, wellness and self-care to advance the healing of participants’ traumas.

Three young women testified about the challenges that they still faced, as survivors of human trafficking and sex work, and about the project’s positive impact on them; it had empowered them to feel more confident about their lives.

The Tuwezeshe programme helped Ms. Namazzi to realise the importance of tapping into her potential to contribute to a greater cause in her community and beyond. She is meanwhile a mentor to three young women and has conducted training programmes on gender, feminism and equality.

Society had pulled me to its standards and expectations, but the TuWezeshe fellowship opened my eyes, [helping me] to acknowledge my true self and not to attribute all my life journey, success and decisions to societal attributions. It feels so good to conquer gender expectations right from your interior to the exterior.’

 

Ruth Atim

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Ruth Atim implemented  a Social Action Project (‘Gender-Based Violence sensitisation of the media and the community in Northern Uganda’) empowering journalists in Northern Uganda with the background skills they need in order to report on Gender-Based Violence. She further conducted research on how to change the attitudes of adolescents and young adults towards Gender-Based Violence in Northern Uganda.

A total of 33 journalists were trained by the project and have thus become more sensitive to reporting stories of Gender-Based Violence, applying a feminist lens to their writings.

In Paboo subcounty, the young people she conducted research on acknowledged the impact that their interactions with Ms. Atim had on them, stating that her Social Action Project had enabled them to start tackling occurrences of Gender-Based Violence in their communities and to establish a club on Gender-Based Violence.

Ms. Atim has founded an organisation – Gender Initiative Uganda (https://www.genderinitiativeug.org) – to support female journalists and all women and girls in the fight for gender equality.

‘Participating in [the] TuWezeshe programme has made me meet awesome yet resourceful women: women who won’t judge you, women who will fix your crown with pride and call you their own. Thank You, Apwoyo Matek!’

Sandra Kwikiriza

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Sandra Kwikiriza carried out a Social Action Project in Munyonyo – Kampala district entitled ‘Are Our “Safe” Spaces Really Safe?’. The project reached out to 32 lesbian and bisexual women, transgender men and queer people – twelve more than her project’s initial target of 20 people.

Under the project, Ms. Kwikiriza conducted a dialogue meeting on the subject of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence in the lesbian, bisexual, queer and transsexual community. The purpose of the dialogue was to identify the different forms of violence that members of this community were facing and to discuss possible strategies for addressing them.

As a result of Ms. Kwikiriza’s Social Action Project, the participants’ knowledge of their rights was enhanced, and they became more conscious of the different forms that Sexual and Gender-Based Violence can take. At the same time, they learned about the mechanisms that are in place to protect them against its perpetrators.

‘TuWezeshe provided a platform for diverse young women in leadership to inspire each other, in spite of our different challenges.’

Sandra Namususwa

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Through the Social Action Project ‘Fight against Gender-Based Violence in Marriages’, Sandra Namususwa educated and raised the awareness of women in Bunyangabu district on Gender-Based Violence and strategies to address it.

After the training session, 40 young women established the Malaika for Women and Associates Organisation, through which they are inspiring other women to harness their full potential. The group has visited other nearby villages, educating communities there on Gender-Based Violence and on the ways in which people can organise efforts to fight against it. They are also working on the economic empowerment of women in the community and, as a result, they have created 3 smaller village groups, each composed of 5 women who are now being supported to increase their knowledge, skills and financial literacy.

From the TuWezeshe Fellowship, I learned that, as a feminist, I can make my own decisions: I am in control of myself – and that my voice and [my] ideas matter.’

Saviour Nakakembo

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Saviour Nakakembo implemented her Social Action Project, ‘BOYS4BOYS’, with the aim of engaging young men in secondary schools and those out of school (in two age groups: 12-18 and 18-30) to help end Sexual and Gender-Based Violence.

Ms. Nakakembo’s project created the Boys4boys school club with 60 boys at Gayaza High School. Since then, the project has reached out to youth leaders and boys in 4 other schools beyond the Kawempe Kiswera school zone.

One of the project’s activities was a successful boy’s march, which brought together 60 boys in an awareness-raising campaign on ending Sexual and Gender-Based Violence. As a result of Ms. Nakakembo’s commitment to her vision for this Social Action Project, partners like Men Engage Uganda, Youth Line Forum, Health for Youth with Parents Involved (HEYPI), the ROTOM care point and several of her TuWezeshe Fellows have supported her work. In addition, many men have joined the campaign to end all forms of violence against women and girls.

I learned that giving away myself to support everyone is what I stand and I will live for.’

Sharon Lunya

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After participating in the TuWezeshe training period in 2018, Sharon Lunya established the ‘4H. E. R Initiative’, a feminist project in Awei subcounty, Alebtong district. Ms. Lunya’s Social Action Project empowered adolescents and young women through leadership coaching, career guidance, and  information on menstrual hygiene, self-care and Sexual and Gender-Based Violence.

Over the course of the ‘4H. E. R Initiative’, she engaged with over 2000 young women and girls (ranging from 10-19 years of age) attending, respectively, Ogogoro primary school, Awei junior primary school, Abako baptist primary school and Adyanglim primary school.  She further trained 50 student leaders from these schools in leadership skills and personal development mentoring, so that they too are now equipped to foster girls’ empowerment among their fellow pupils in four areas:  ‘HER Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights’, ‘HER Leadership’,  ‘HER Education’ and ‘HER Justice’. The project also distributed over 30 sanitary towels to the primary schools and provided 30 girls with underwear.

Another, separate component of Ms. Lunya’s project saw her chairing community dialogues and training sessions for important community stakeholders, like primary school teachers,  parents and community leaders.  Today, ten parents are ambassadors of the 4HER initiative, and are helping to fight Sexual and Gender-Based Violence in their community.

‘TuWezeshe gave me a baseline and a starting ground to establish my dream career in political leadership, through meeting people and also through my community project, dubbed [the] “4H.E.R initiative”, in Awei subcounty.’

Shira Natenda

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Shira Natenda’s Social Action Project – ‘Prevention of Client-Initiated Gender-Based Violence among Female Sex Workers’ – trained  45 people, including 30 sex workers, on human rights, feminism, Gender-Based Violence, self-confidence, negotiation skills and security skills. Through her project, she also developed a guiding tool to be used by sex workers, third parties, hotel/brothel owners and pimps. The tool describes how sex workers should be responded to when with clients, where outdoor sex transactions should occur, and when to pay money, among other issues.

The project’s training dimension contributed to an increased awareness of human rights, Gender-Based Violence and feminism among female sex workers, a drop in the cases of Gender-Based Violence inflicted on female sex workers, and a higher number of sex workers seeking justice when subjected to Gender-Based Violence.

In 2018, Ms. Natenda established the Golden Centre for Women’s Rights, founded on the principle of intersectional feminism. GCWR-Uganda is a registered feminist group, founded by and for women sex workers.

Before knowing about feminism, I was a lost, sad woman. The day I [first] declared that I am a feminist, I was born again. The training offered me [a] clear understanding of women’s rights. I got to believe that I deserved love, care and kindness and so do the women like me.’

Stella Kijange Lajiri

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Stella Kijange Lajiri’s Social Action Project , ‘The Referral Pathway for the Female Survivors of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence to Access Justice’, was implemented in the Acholi sub-region of Northen Uganda. It enhanced the knowledge of  200 women and girls on Sexual and Gender-Based Violence.  They now know more about their rights and the legal procedures for reporting cases of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence, and they are able to bring their cases before the courts.

The project helped women and girls to understand and identify Sexual and Gender-Based Violence, and taught them about the channels that are available to access legal support and defend their rights. Different stakeholders participating in the project (representatives from the Sexual and Gender-Based Violence Taskforce, the police, court and prison staff, etc.) also improved their knowledge regarding the punishment and prevention of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence, including these stakeholders’ relevant responsibilities, referral procedures, and existing mechanisms.

Inspired by Tuwezeshe, in 2018, Ms Lajiri registered a community-based organization, the Equal Empowerment Network (EENet) as a non-political, charitable, community-based organisation carrying out its operations in the entire district of Acholi sub-region.

‘From the Tuwezeshe Fellowship I learned that everyone matters in this movement of solidarity and sisterhood. As feminists, we should create a group where we meet and discuss issues concerning women.’

 

Sumaya Nalubega

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For her Social Action Project, Sumaya Nalubega opted to document women’s experiences of Gender-Based Violence. To implement the project, which was entitled ‘How Women in Kampala Respond to Repeated Gender-Based Violence Experiences’, she worked closely with three police officers and seven survivors of Gender-Based Violence.

In documenting the experiences of survivors, Ms. Nalubega crucially was able to identify some of the reasons why women do not always report cases of Gender-Based Violence;  these included the fear of being stigmatised by society, the sometimes poor police response to Gender-Based Violence incidents, as well as threats made by the perpetrators if the women/girls tried to seek help from the police. As part of her project, Ms. Nalubega also educated survivors on their rights and on the mechanisms established by government and by civil society organisations to support victims of Gender-Based Violence.

TuWezeshe enabled me to create networks that have contributed to my growth. I am currently working with [another] feminist I met in the network.’

Susan Aciro

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Uganda Fellow

Through her Social Action Project, ‘Eliminating Gender-Based Violence against Girls and Women with Disabilities’, implemented  in Buyende district – Kidera subcounty, Susan Aciro trained more than 20 differently-abled women and girls on Gender-Based Violence and on their Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights. As a result, there has been an increase in the number of girls and women in the district who know their rights, who have higher self-esteem and are vigilant and confident enough to report cases of abuse.

Three cases of sexual abuse were reported as a result, with one woman having the courage to report sexual harassment at her workplace, leading to the suspension of the perpetrator.

TuWezeshe changed my perception [of] sexual violence. Through training and interactions with other Fellows, I came to realise that survivors of sexual violence require a lot of support to heal their wounds. I also understood that everyone deserves respect, regardless of their sexual orientation.’

Tendo Namata

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Uganda Fellow

Tendo Namata has been able to reach out to more than 250 people in Bwizi and Biguli subcounties through her  Social Action Project, entitled ‘Increasing Community Capacity to fight Gender-Based Violence.

Ms. Namata’s project has been instrumental in supporting communities to ascertain the key problems that they face in the fight against Gender-Based Violence. The local challenges identified include insufficent access to positive gender information, limited economic resources and a lack of opportunities for the women in these subcounties to start enjoying financial inclusion.

The project’s efficient team of five self-driven volunteers received support in the form of mobilisation, strategic planning and training.  As a result of this grassroots approach, the community ownership of the project was very strong; community members involved in the project have continued to conduct sensitisation meetings and dialogues on Gender-Based Violence since the end of the project. What is more, in 2018, five Village Savings and Loans Associations were created to support women to be economically independent – an effective strategy to reduce Gender-Based Violence.

And last, but not least, Ms. Namata’s project led to the formation of a community-based organisation (and savings group) called the Embibo Gender Initiative, which has proven itself to be both scalable and sustainable. The Village Gender Team, one of the components of the Embibo Gender Initiative, has since won a ‘Blog 4 Dev Award’ from the World Bank.

In implementing her Social Action Project, Ms. Namata built up good working relations with a number of different community stakeholders who supported the project’s vision. For example, the local Teachers’ Network supported her in developing innovative ways to raise awareness in the communities, including instituting ‘Gender Days’. Ms. Namata has also worked closely with the Local Council Chairperson, who has been essential in mobilising and helping to carry out two Focus Group Discussions (FGD) on Gender-Based Violence, as well as helping to register the Embibo Gender Initiative.

Finding yourself as a feminist and [achieving] what you want to do cannot be done alone; you need people to show you, mentor you and provide a sisterhood. That is what TuWezeshe is to me.’

Tanzania Fellows

Celina Baragwiha

Celina Baragwiha Tanzania Fellow

Dafrosa Isdory Kuoko

Dafrosa Isdory Kuoko Tanzania Fellow

Doreen Kalugira

Doreen Kalugira Tanzania Fellow

Elineema William

Elineema William Tanzania Fellow

Esther Shayo

Esther Shayo Tanzania Fellow

Eunice Hubert

Eunice Hubert Tanzania Fellow

Euphomia Edward Frimin

Euphomia Edward Frimin Tanzania Fellow

Grace Kassimoto

Grace Kassimoto Tanzania Fellow

Hellen Njuyuwi

Hellen Njuyuwi Tanzania Fellow

Hortencia Nuhu Mbalahami

Hortencia Nuhu Mbalahami Tanzania Fellow

Husna Selemani

Husna Selemani Tanzania Fellow

Irene Massawe

Irene Massawe Tanzania Fellow

Jesca Christopher Mtoi

Jesca Christopher Mtoi Tanzania Fellow

Khadija Khalid Ismail

Khadija Khalid Ismail Tanzania Fellow

Kibibi Seleman

Kibibi Seleman Tanzania Fellow

Lilian Kimath

Lilian Kimath Tanzania Fellow

Luciana Benedict

Luciana Benedict Tanzania Fellow

Mariam Shio

Mariam Shio Tanzania Fellow

Dr. Mariana Joe Mubelwa

Dr. Mariana Joe Mubelwa Tanzania Fellow

Martha Thomas Mwammale

Martha Thomas Mwammale Tanzania Fellow

Rose Gordian Mwakipesile

Rose Gordian Mwakipesile Tanzania Fellow

Sitta Shukuru Banzi

Sitta Shukuru Banzi Tanzania Fellow

Victoria Kanisa

Victoria Kanisa Tanzania Fellow

Celina Baragwiha

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Tanzania Fellow

‘Kigenge Chetu’ – Celina Baragwiha’s TuWezeshe project – focussed on building conversations around  Sexual and Gender-Based Violence, particularly intimate partner violence. Her project engaged with 43 young women (19 to 24 years old) through capacity-building workshops on the topics of human rights and Sexual and Gender-Based Violence. In addition, alongside the workshops, Ms. Baragwiha used social media as a tool to advocate for the rights of women and girls. Kigenge Chetu has now been extended into an Instagram TV show (‘Sugar’), which hosts conversations that unlearn and unpack some of the myths surrounding Sexual and Gender-Based Violence.

“The TuWezeshe Fellowship Program has elevated my knowledge and I am so proud to be part of the movement of young women who are boldly speaking out against Gender-Based Violence.”

Dafrosa Isdory Kuoko

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Tanzania Fellow

The main focus of Dafrosa Isdory Kuoko’s project, which she called ’Girl Branding’, was building up the confidence and self-esteem of girls aged 17 – 19 attending secondary schools in Dar es Salaam. Dafrosa used capacity-building workshops to do this, organised through a Girl Branding club. The project reached a total of 25 girls, who have become more confident and assertive about taking charge of their lives.

“The TuWezeshe training reminded me that – as much as I want to take care of everyone – it’s crucial to remember to take care of myself, and that boundaries are vital to protect our mental health and wellbeing.”

Doreen Kalugira

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Tanzania Fellow

Women of Influence’, Doreen Kalugira’s Social Action Project, created a cadre of 28 young women to advocate for women’s and girls’ rights against domestic violence. Through training sessions on domestic violence and by teaching the participants entrepreneurship skills, the project promoted gender equality and fostered women’s empowerment.

Even after completing her Social Action Project, Ms. Kalugira continues to be an ardent advocate for women’s and girls’ rights through her online social media campaigns, which have so far reached over 520 people (80 men, 440 women) across the world. 

“The leadership training has allowed me to feel empowered. I am looking forward to expanding the work that I am doing in my community.”

Elineema William

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Tanzania Fellow

Elineema Villaim’s project was entitled Raising Awareness on Domestic Violence. To achieve its objective, which was to empower women (and men) to take action against domestic violence, the initiative established a group of 19 ambassadors (12 women and 7 men), who are now teaching other men and women about domestic violence and about how to fight poverty – which is one of the big drivers of domestic violence in households.

Through her Social Action Project, Ms. Villaim has so far reached 24 young people (12 female, 12 male) in her community, enlightening them with knowledge of domestic violence, and with a better understanding of the reporting and support mechanisms in place for survivors of violence.

 “I have been able to increase my confidence; I was scared even in my presentation [during the TuWezeshe training]. But now, I have [the] confidence to stand in front of people and talk about women’s and girls’ issues. I have been able to improve my project management skills and have [had] the opportunity to connect with [the] community.”

Esther Shayo

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Tanzania Fellow

Implemented in Kinondoni district, Esther Shayo’s project – Rape Against Young Women – raised community awareness on rape and on the laws relating to sexual violence (particularly rape). Through a series of workshops, the project reached 65 girls and five boys in secondary schools and 13 young women in the wider community. Following her successful Social Action Project, Esther secured her dream job, working with Marie Stopes as a Program Officer.

“The training gave me a space to believe in myself, as well as [to] gain knowledge on human rights and a deep understanding of gender-based violence.”

Eunice Hubert

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Tanzania Fellow

Shikana Hub’, Eunice Hubert’s Social Action Project, set out to close the knowledge gaps between girls and boys by raising awareness among secondary school girls of their Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights and of Gender-Based Violence.

The Shikana Hub interventions focussed on a number of key topics, such as menstruation, contraceptionpregnancy and sexually transmissible infections. Through her Social Action Project, Ms. Hubert reached 30 secondary school students, who were thus able to increase their knowledge of their Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights and of Gender-Based Violence.

“The leadership training helped [me] to improve my confidence, project planning and management skills. It also allowed me to understand my power to influence change in my community.”

Euphomia Edward Frimin

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Tanzania Fellow

The ‘TuWezeshe Msichana na Tanzania’ (“girl child and Tanzania”) initiative – Euphomia Edward Frimin’s Social Action Project – bolstered the confidence and the leadership skills of 36 young girls, aged 14-17, in order to unlock their potential and empower them to take action to end Gender-Based Violence. Using social media, Ms. Frimin’s project reached 156 people (121 females and 35 males) while discussing the various issues that affect girls in Tanzania.

After successfully completing her Social Action Project, Ms. Frimin worked as an intern with TuWezeshe partner CDF, before securing a permanent job there. She is now a full-time staff member on the team working on women’s and girls’ rights.

“I call the TuWezeshe leadership training a total mind-set-transformation journey. It helped me to discover my true self [and] instilled me with confidence, while igniting my passion to become a real change-maker in my community.”

Grace Kassimoto

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Tanzania Fellow

After recognising the persistence of the problem of teenage pregnancy, despite the existence of several initiatives seeking to eradicate it, Grace Kassimoto set out to conduct a research project gathering data on the root causes of the problem. Her Social Action Project – ‘A Study on Causes and Impacts of Teenage Pregnancy in Dar es Salaam’ – seeks to inform the public, and especially the organisations working to end teenage pregnancy, on both its causes and its impacts. Adding to the existing body of research in the area, the new report will hopefully ensure that issues of teenage pregnancy are adequately addressed, and inform policy and advocacy initiatives with its insights.

 “The training has made me realise a lot of things about myself. I have learnt to accept the things that I cannot change about myself and [to] focus on my strengths. I always thought I needed to have lots of money to make a change, but now I realise that changing one person [can itself] bring impact to the whole community.”

Hellen Njuyuwi

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Tanzania Fellow

Helen Njuyuwi’s Social Action Project, ‘Girls Agenda’, equipped girls with leadership skills through a series of workshops, to allow them to take action against Gender-Based Violence in their communities. The project reached 25 girls and young women from Chakuwama Orphanage Centre. The young women participating in Ms. Njuyuwi’s project went on to form a network – also called Girls Agenda – to pass on the knowledge that they had received to their peers.

 

“The TuWezeshe fellowship has taught me that we all have an important role to play to bring change to our communities.”

Hortencia Nuhu Mbalahami

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Tanzania Fellow

Her Movement’, the Social Action Project initiated by Hortencia Nuhu Mbalahami, set out to push Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights higher up the agenda by providing education in this area to 47 girls and young women in Dodoma Region. As part of her Social Action Project, Ms. Mbalahami hosted online dialogues on the challenges inhibiting the youth from accessing Sexual and Reproductive Health services, reaching a total of 156  people (114 female, 42 male) in this way.

Her passion for Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights further led Ms. Mbalahami to create an online Sexual and Reproductive Health centre, using WhatsApp, which continues to serve as a learning hub for young people seeking information on Sexual and Reproductive Health. Hortencia is currently working on creating a mobile app that will extend the reach of this virtual platform and provide Sexual and Reproductive Health information to even more young people.  

 “TuWezeshe taught me that accountability starts from within: if you are not accountable for yourself, you cannot be accountable to others.”

Husna Selemani

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Tanzania Fellow

Through ‘Binti Jasir’ (which translates into “Brave Girl”), Husna Selemani aimed to raise awareness of sexual and reproductive health and rights among students between the ages of 13 and 17 by running educational workshops. Through her project, she was able to reach 60 in-school students, who are now Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights champions for their peers. Ms. Selemani remains an advocate for girls’ and women’s rights in her community.

The confidence I gained during the TuWezeshe training helped me to be bold and stand for what I believe in.”

Irene Massawe

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Tanzania Fellow

Irene Massawe – Youth Empowerment Zone on Ending Child Marriage

The Social Action Project ‘Youth Empowerment Zone on Ending Child Marriage’ – designed and carried out by Irene Massawe – raised community awareness on the effects of child marriage. Using a short film and several workshops, Ms. Massawe raised awareness on its negative impacts among an audience of 190 young people – 40 male, 150 female – aged 13 to 24.

The project provided an open forum in which young people could discuss different forms of Gender-Based Violence, particularly child marriage, as well as giving their views on what could be done to accelerate change.

“TuWezeshe has helped me to change myself and [to] influence other young girls, [by] changing community perceptions and attitudes on child marriage and other harmful traditional practices.”

Jesca Christopher Mtoi

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Tanzania Fellow

Jesca Christopher Mtoi’s project ‘Sanzuka Afrika (Dance Africa)’ used art, music and media to empower the youth –  from 14 to 24 years of age – with knowledge about their Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights.

Through the project, she taught students from Jangwani Secondary School and the Institute of Social Work (ISW) about Sexual and Reproductive Health and Gender-Based Violence. Reaching 465 young people overall (315 female, 150 male), her Social Action Project has thus empowered these young people to stand up for their rights and to use their voices and abilities to speak out against violence.

Ms. Mtoi also carried out a social media campaign on Gender-Based Violence, which reached 920 people (469 men and 451 women).

“The TuWezeshe leadership training helped me to understand my potential as a young woman – [and] my community – better. I have learned the value of dedication and teamwork through running my own social action initiative.”

Khadija Khalid Ismail

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Tanzania Fellow

Hands For Children’ – Khadija Khalid Ismail’s Social Action Project – educated adolescent girls and boys (from secondary schools and an orphanage) on gender-based violence, and sexual and reproductive health, as well as teaching them valuable life skills. Through her Social Action Project as well as through online social media campaigns, in total, Ms. Ismail’s work reached 70  students (41 female, 29 male) and 389 adults (168 men and 221 women).

Since completing Hands For Children, she has continued to be thoroughly committed to advocating against Gender-Based Violence and promoting women and girls’ rights, working efficiently and effectively with other stakeholders so as to increase efforts in this area.

 “TuWezeshe has provided me with [the] knowledge and skills to be a change advocate, but most importantly, it has opened doors to opportunities with diverse net­works. I linked up with [the] ATLAS Network, which advocates for liberty, and I am [also now] the chairperson for the Ladies of Liberty Alliance (LOLA) Chapter in Tanzania. All these opportunities would not have come knocking if it was not for the TuWezeshe Programme.”

Kibibi Seleman

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Tanzania Fellow

Kibibi Seleman carried out a Social Action Project entitled ‘Hatua za Binti Jasiri’ (meaning “steps of a brave woman”). The project set out to raise awareness of child marriage by targeting parents and secondary school students. The project reached 30 students and 56 parents (20 male, 36 female) in total, either directly or through the Brave Network.

Through Hatua za Binti Jasiri, Ms. Seleman created safe spaces for dialogue in which both parents and students could “demystify the myths” around the gendered roles that girls and boys are expected to fulfil in families, while the discussions also stressed the role of parents in promoting and protecting their girls’ rights. The project discussed the impacts and outcomes of child marriage on each girl and on the community as a whole. In the end, the participants joined a mentorship scheme that is now reaching out to more parents and students in the community with the message of respect and equality for all.

“If there is one thing I can attest to, [then it] is that TuWezeshe has sparked my passion to work with communities. And through my project, I was able to do just that by creating champions that protect the rights of girls from child marriage.”

Lilian Kimath

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Tanzania Fellow

Lilian Kimath’s Social Action Project – ‘Kengele ya binti’’ (which means “Girl’s Bell”) – sought to raise awareness of Gender-Based Violence, with an emphasis on rape and sexual harassment. The project interacted with 240 young people (66 male, 174 female), between 15 and 24 years old, increasing their understanding of the crimes of  rape and sexual assault.

At the same time, the youth benefitting from the project gained a new appreciation for the value and the dignity of girls and women. Kengele ya binti emphasised girls’ innate right to pursue their dreams and showed the participants just how much young women can offer to improve their country.

Using the power of social media, Ms. Kimath reached a total of 277 men (117) and women (160) with information on Gender-Based violence.

 “The TuWezeshe programme instilled in me [a] great deal of confidence and has fuelled my ambition to become a leader.”

Luciana Benedict

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Tanzania Fellow

Binti mwenye ndoto’ (i.e. “a girl with a dream”), Luciana Benedict’s project, intended to raise students’ awareness of sexual harassment – how it happens, and where to report it. Through the project, Luciana reached a total of 190  students (186 girls and 4 boys) in schools, as well as a total of 244 community members (108 male, 136 female) through online campaigns.

Ms. Benedict has also successfully published her own children’s book, entitled ‘ZAWADI’. She was able to use this book as a tool for raising awareness during her project. She continues to be a fierce advocate to her family and to the community in which she lives, where she is now recognised as a young woman and feminist.

“The training taught me that, as young women, we have power [that] we can use to change the status quo. We should always think of the power we have and not focus on our weaknesses.”

Mariam Shio

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Tanzania Fellow

Mariam Shio’s research-focussed Social Action Project  – ‘Assessing the Level of Awareness and Implementation of Policies that Address Sexual Harassment Against Women in Kinondoni District, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania’ – identified Tanzanian policies that addressed sexual harassment and then assessed the level of awareness and implementation of those policies in Kinondoni. Ms. Shio also mapped out the challenges currently obstructing the effective implementation of these policies, concluding her report by outlining further measures that needed to be taken by Tanzania’s institutions. The study created an entry point for local TuWezeshe partner CDF’s work on sexual harassment in Tanzania’s higher learning institutions.

 “TuWezeshe has made me understand that I am a powerful leader, no matter how small I consider myself. I can make and bring change as a woman, and fight for the rights of other women.”

Dr. Mariana Joe Mubelwa

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Tanzania Fellow

Through ’Namaliza Shule’ (meaning “I will finish school”), Dr. Mariana Joe Mubelwa raised awareness among girls and young women (from 12 to 20 years of age) on matters of sexual and reproductive health, menstrual hygiene, and gender-based violence, occurring both at home and in school. Dr. Mubelwa had observed that, in her community, most girls were dropping out of school due to periodic poverty and teenage pregnancy (the result of sexual abuse). Her Namaliza Shule project empowered 23 people (21 females and 2 males) on the topics of Gender-Based Violence and Sexual and Reproductive Health, and taught the girls and young women to make reusable sanitary pads, so that they would no longer miss school due to menstruation.

 

“The TuWezeshe training was definitely an eye-opener for me; it was really thought-provoking and challenged me address some of the convictions [that] I had about myself and the society around me.”

Martha Thomas Mwammale

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Tanzania Fellow

Martha Thomas Mwammale initiated a Social Action Project named ‘Binti Jasirika’ (which can be translated as “Be brave, girl!”). The project aimed to raise awareness on gender-based violence among young girls, aged 13-17, through a series of dialogues and training sessions.  In this way, the project gave the 40 participating school girls a foundation from which they can aspire to be advocates of change.

“TuWezeshe pushed me to challenge myself to work harder, and taught me the discipline that comes with determination and dedication [to] our work.”

Rose Gordian Mwakipesile

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Tanzania Fellow

Rose Gordian Mwakipesile carried out a Social Action Project entitled ‘Creating Awareness on Human Rights, Sexual and Reproductive Health and Self-awareness in Preventing Adolescent Pregnancy’. As its name suggests, this project successfully taught 10- to 19-year-old girls and young women about human rights, Sexual and Reproductive Health, and teenage pregnancy. In reaching 400 girls in Salma Kikwete Secondary School and empowering them with this knowledge, Ms. Mwakipesile has faith that her Social Action Project will result in a drop in the adolescent pregnancy that blights so many young girls’ lives.

“The training taught me to see opportunity in our challenges and to find community-driven solutions.

Sitta Shukuru Banzi

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Tanzania Fellow

Sitta Shukuru Banzi’s ‘Jitathimini Campaign’ explored the issue of domestic violence with high school students (“jitathimini” means “reflect”). Using youth clubs, Ms. Banzi created a platform for dialogue between students and women’s rights activists – such as the Tanzania Women Lawyers Association – on issues of domestic violence. The campaign initially reached 30 students (15 female, 15 male), who, thanks to their new awareness and understanding of domestic violence, have continued to pass this knowledge on to their peers, both in and out of school.

“The TuWezeshe leadership training filled me with positive energy as a young woman. The skills I gained – such as leadership skills, public speaking skills, project management skills and team working – are the main benefits obtained from the leadership training. I became a more confident, vibrant and optimistic young woman.”

Victoria Kanisa

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Tanzania Fellow

Victoria Kanisa’s Social Action Project was a research project, aimed at analysing the policies that govern the right to education of children (particularly girls) living with disabilities. The resulting report was entitled ‘Assessing the Laws and Policies on the Realisation of the Right to Education of a Disabled Girl Child: a case study of Dar es Salaam region’.

Recognising that, more often than not, girls living with disabilities are at a higher risk of becoming victims of violence, the study looked at the available laws and policies governing the right to education of girls with disabilities, as well as the practical implementation of these policies.

“TuWezeshe taught me the value of solidarity among women. I am privileged to be a part of the global network of young women leaders spearheading change in our communities.”