By Vanessa Anyoti.
I am a girl, I am a youth, I am an African, I am educated, I have a voice and I am the solution. My goal in life is to turn my voice into ideas and ideas into practices and spaces. We are accountable for each other and now need to focus on being part of the solution and bringing forth change, regardless of the difficulties that will be faced.
The AU pre-summit trainings, as well as the GIMAC sessions, have both been eye openers and enforcers. What I have learnt most and what will resonate with me once I go back to Tanzania and continue with the work of YWCA and empowering the girl child, is that whatever it is we dream of, whatever purpose we aim to fulfil, it can be done and the fight for this dream began a long time ago. There are patriarchs before us that have paved a way for us and now it’s our turn to do our bit and to help the other women; be it the woman beside us or the girl that looks up to us. It is important to remember that we are in a very unique position and already possess so much power. As we go by with our day-to- day work we ought to remember that we are a voice for those girls and women that may never get chance to speak for themselves, so SPEAK!
My particular interest in life is in public health and in the 21st century we ought to ensure that it is no longer acceptable for an African woman who decides to have sex or to have a child, to die because of that decision. We don’t only need to be focusing on African solutions to African problems we also need to provide youth solutions to youth, African and global problems. Its time we utilize our collective voices, we are a global world and we are all interdependent on each other, so in order to be effective we need to collectively come up with common goals that can guide our separate entities of work. I can no longer just be focused on promoting public health as all sectors of society affect each other. I need to also consider the economic empowerment of women, land rights and policies, human rights, education, climate change, agriculture and food security, etc. because sustainable development can only be guaranteed in Africa when people are the means and end of growth. Sustainable development in Africa can and will be driven by women and the youth.
When I first heard that the theme of this year’s AU Summit was on Agriculture and Food Security, I initially felt a little disinterested. I thought that this wasn’t a pressing matter in Africa and we could be addressing other issues. Little did I know that the issue of agriculture and food security affects us all, especially young women who are less likely to access land. If we cannot consistently produce our own food, then Africa cannot develop. The issue of agriculture and food security relates to all sectors of life including education, climate change, economic development, rights and policies, etc. Africa is fundamentally agriculturally based and to deny us the development and industrialization the African agricultural sector means to deny the African citizens of structural and fundamental development that is needed to bring Africa out of its ‘dark cycle’. It was hard for me to accept that economic development is land ownership, and for young woman like myself, unless I inherit land from my family, I will most likely not be able to own my own land and this may cause some women to be predisposed to a life of poverty. We cannot continue to let an issue that can be corrected by land policies and rights continue to burden the life of many, especially women. It is then that I realized that that issue of agriculture and food development should have been talked about it and dealt with yesterday, not in the next few days.
Filed under: Leadership