Mozambique: Youth activists call for safer streets in Maputo

At 6 a.m. every morning, 13-year-old Jareeyah* from Maputo sets out for a 10-minute walk from home to her high school. The trek isn’t long, but it always makes her uneasy.

“Sometimes I walk with friends… I don’t feel safe in my city,” she says.

Jareeyah lives in the densely populated neighbourhood, Ka Maxakene, in the heart of Mozambique’s sprawling capital, Maputo.

In 2016, shortly after Maputo launched a Safe City and Safe Public Spaces Programme, as part of UN Women’s Safe Cities Global Initiative, a scoping study on sexual harassment and other forms of violence against women and girls in public spaces was conducted. Shockingly, it revealed that nearly 7 in 10 girls have experienced some form of violence in public spaces.

But girls like Jareeyah, a staunch feminist and human rights activist since the age of 9, are working on ways to change the situation. Through a leadership group at her school, Jareeyah organizes debates to get students to reflect on social problems including: gender inequality, sexual violence in public and private spaces, premature and forced marriage, urban insecurity, unsafe infrastructure, sanitation and safety in schools.

“We also talk about female leadership and safe spaces,” she says. “We can use our voices to advocate, raise awareness among other girls about where we can go and how we can live without violence, discrimination, or being insulted.”

Jareeyah carries a camera to snap images of insecure spaces and uses her voice, art and social media networks to advocate for infrastructure changes—and for girls to play a greater role in decision-making and designing gender-sensitive public policies.

It’s all part of the Maputo Safe City Programme, supported by the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation and the City of Madrid. The first action of the programme has been focused on activities in two schools, engaging young people and community champions to change attitudes and behaviours that hinder women and girls’ safety in public spaces.

“Just because they are girls, boys would touch their private parts and they were exposed to unwanted, tedious comments by men,” explains Jareeyah’s high school teacher Adelina Stela Manuel Chambal. “But this is changing after boys become sensitized through the debates. They’ve now started respecting girls, they understand that women’s/girl’s
bodies can’t be touched without their permission, and they have learned to interact more respectfully with girls”

As many as 25,000 community members are expected to be reached through awareness-raising activities in the neighbourhoods of Ka Maxakene and Kamalhanculo. Some 2,000 boys and girls are also engaged in these school-based activities.

Among them is Frenk*, a 14-year-old human rights advocate and coordinator of the male engagement programme to end sexual violence in public spaces, at a high school in Ka Maxakene.

“Girls may get robbed, or raped. It happens often. Not a day goes by that you don’t hear about it on the TV news,” he says. “For Maputo to be a safe city we need to create more safe spaces. We talk among us guys and girls, about what we need, like more lighting in our neighbourhoods and also suggestion boxes where we can safely report violence.” In Frek’s school, a suggestion box is now in place, where students, teachers and workers can anonymously report any complaint, which is then addressed by a designated authority and the school management.

Frenk organizes thought-provoking discussions among his peers about toxic masculinities and how to transform them for positive change.

“Boys need to change the machismo culture and stop seeing themselves as powerful or violent, and regard girls as equal,” he says.

The Maputo Safe City Project Manager at UN Women Mozambique Fernanda Bernardo explains that these discussions are a starting point where girls and boys begin to question the norms and behaviours they were brought up with. “We have boy and girl leaders challenging these norms with other boys and girls, inviting them to join the reflections and be more active in disseminating positive values and masculinities,” she says.

Frenk divides up the girls and boys to separately discuss issues like gender equality, gender-based violence, social norms and power, before bringing them together to reflect on their role in creating safer communities.

“We promote debate and awareness to break the cycle of violence. We can all work to make our community more secure,” says Frenk. “I tell them we can be leaders in fighting against violence and using our voices to advocate.”

And their voices are being heard. Using a methodology called Photovoice, students have been taking pictures of the places they consider unsafe and making presentations to the community and government authorities.

Looking at urban planning and infrastructure with a gender lens matters because they impact the daily lives of women and girls—from their mobility to their access to sanitation, or how late they can stay outside and what jobs at what hour they can take.

“Because of the pictures, this issue became more visible and issues are being responded to,” explains Ms. Bernardo. She says that at Frenk’s school, students managed to get the school to change the location of the toilets because they were not private or safe for girls.

Young activists are even getting reactions to their complaints and demands from local authorities. One of the demands in Ka Maxakene was that the municipality illuminate unsafe streets and alleys. Community leaders also complained about an abandoned school to the Ministry of Education, and some staff from the Ministry visited the site, along with students to assess the situation.

Another action for the Maputo Safe City programme is focusing at the national level, as UN Women, teachers and students are advocating for a law against sexual harassment, particularly in schools.

Maputo is among the more than 37 cities that are taking part in UN Women’s Safe Cities and Safe Public Spaces Global Initiative The Maputo Safe City Programme with Women and Girls was designed and launched in partnership with Maputo’s local government, the Ministry of Gender, Child and Social Action, UN Women, UN Habitat, Horizonte Azul, Men for Change Network (HOPEM), the Office of Technical Cooperation, Spain, women’s organizations and other key stakeholders.

Source UN Women

Tunisian activist Aya Chebbi appointed African Union’s Youth Envoy

By Daniel Mumbere

Tunisian activist, Aya Chebbi was on Thursday appointed the first ever African Union (AU) Youth Envoy, a position created to mobilise young people across the continent towards the pursuit of Agenda 2063.

Chebbi, a Pan-African feminist from Tunisia, who shot to global fame as a blogger during the 2010 Arab Spring in her country, will work with a Youth Advisory Council comprised of members from across the continent.

‘‘She will advocate, and raise awareness on, the implementation of the Demographic Dividend Roadmap,’‘ reads part of the AU statement on her appointment.

The African Union Demographic Dividend Roadmap is a policy document which roots for investment in Africa’s young people in the areas of employment and entrepreneurship, education and skills development, health and wellbeing, and rights, governance and youth empowerment

About Aya Chebbi

Aya Chebbi (31) is an activist on a mission to connect, empower and mobilise African youth into social change through Pan- Africanism.

Chebbi holds a degree in International Relations from the Higher Institute of Human Sciences of Tunis and a Master’s degree in African Politics from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, where she was a Mo Ibrahim Scholar.

She is the founder of multiple platforms, such as the Youth Programme of Holistic Empowerment Mentoring (Y-PHEM), which coaches the next generation to be positive change agents; Afrika Youth Movement (AYM), one of Africa’s largest Pan-African youth-led movements; and Afresist, a youth leadership programme and multimedia platform documenting youth work in Africa.

Source: africanews

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3 ways Africa can unleash the potential of its youth and women

By Vanessa Moungar

Everyone deserves a fair chance at life. However, the reality is that getting a fair chance depends on your context.

Today, tens of millions of young Africans enter the job market expecting employment, which they won’t find. Consequently, discontent is growing, young people are roaring, and in some capitals, they are taking it to the streets. There are many reasons to explain these high levels of joblessness, from lack of skills to poor education quality. Across Africa, millions of boys and girls are still out of school, which dramatically reduces their chance of realizing their potential. In particular, many girls are married off at a young age instead of staying in school. Missing on their rights to self-determination, they end up having more children than they would have wanted and becoming victims of abuse in cases where marriage becomes the only source of economic survival.

African leaders have recognized the urgency of investing in Africa’s women and youth to ensure they are productive agents of their growing economies. Indeed, they have articulated the African Union 2017 Roadmap around the theme of harnessing the demographic dividend. But this can’t be business as usual. African states need to invest with ambition, focus and efficiency to ensure that youth that are educated and empowered today become productive agents of their growing economies tomorrow. Beyond policy, governments will need to work closely with the private sector, multilateral organizations and civil society to scale up the programmes that work, and make that agenda a reality. Following that call from the African Union and the United Nation’s Population Fund, a global partnership of stakeholders from the various sectors is being assembled to advise and provide practical solutions to Empower, Educate and Employ women and youth.

Here are some of the top priorities:


Young people need to have the space to express their aspirations and to be part of building Africa’s future. Civic participation in nation building is central to reducing youth vulnerability and maximizing human capital investments. Indeed, young people have a role to play in ensuring accountability from their government and must be empowered to become the real custodians of their future.

Besides, no country in the world has ever achieved a demographic dividend without making a significant investment in access to family planning. Fertility is higher in sub-Saharan Africa than anywhere in the world and falling very slowly. There, in addition to enforcing laws to prevent child marriage and scaling up cash transfer programs for school attendance, governments must leverage partnerships with the pharmaceutical industry as well as logistics experts to bring family planning options to women everywhere, even in the most remote areas. They can ensure private health insurance covers family planning and education, work with media to open conversations about family planning or marriage age, and partner with community based organizations to engage communities.


Progress has been made in school enrolment in recent decades, as more children are accessing school today than at the turn of the century. However, 130 million girls around the world are still being denied an education — and 51 million of them are here in Africa. And among the ones having the privilege of going to school, many are not learning or completing their studies.

To change this, a radical shift is needed in the way education is financed and how those funds are used. For starters, increased financing for education is needed from both international donors and domestic resources. But importantly, any increase in financing must be matched by country-level reforms that increase effectiveness and improve accountability around spending. This includes public-private partnerships to review and adapt curriculum and training to market needs. New technologies open the door to much progress in both reach and quality of education, and vocational training models have proven successful in speeding up school to work transition. Finally, by incentivizing private sector investment through a competitive education market, governments can encourage the creation of first class regional educational institutions.


Policies to facilitate job creation need to be dramatically accelerated on the continent, to absorb its bulging working-age population. Current global efforts through the African Union and the G20 Compact with Africa can support the creation of a significant number of jobs. Harmony between both global processes is imperative to create mutually reinforcing synergies. The G20 Compact must dovetail into what the African economies need to harness this demographic dividend. Talk is cheap however, so all stakeholders – regional and international – must keep their promises and match their words with actions.

Governments must also incentivize youth employment and leverage the multiple existing private-sector-led initiatives to expand internships, apprenticeships and on-the-job training. Beyond these jobs, youth needs policies that enable easier access to business capital, which can happen through microcredit and SME financing programmes in partnership with the banking sector. Overall, competitiveness must improve for markets to offer opportunities to entrepreneurs, as well as to attract larger investors in sectors with job-multiplier effects, such as manufacturing, agro industries and ICT.

These are some of the top-line, priority recommendations. And the good news is that most of these laws and programmes already exist. They just need to be implemented or scaled up. It will require government coordination across many areas, clear and practical national plans, and optimum engagement of civil society, the private sector and the international community at large, to mobilize the adequate capacity and investment required.

Investing in young people, particularly girls, is one of the most powerful steps a nation can take to spur progress and advancement for all its citizens. For Africa it’s not just the right thing to do, it’s a must do for the continent to survive and thrive.

Source: World Economic Forum

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Young women peacebuilders call for inclusion and representation

By UN Women

We young people, individually and collectively are a piece of peace”, said Lynrose Jane Dumandan Genon, a representative of the Young Women for Peace and Leadership programme of the Global Network for Women Peacebuilders in the Philippines, speaking at a side event in New York on 25 October, on the sidelines of the annual UN Security Council Open Debate on women, peace and security. “We do our part in making peace happen in whatever community we are in; we bring our little pieces together to create a bigger impact,” she added.

Genon is among a new generation of young women leaders who are taking a stand against discrimination, promoting women’s rights and are at the forefront of community efforts to prevent conflict and sustain peace. For these young women, the road to peace and their participation in the peace processes is long and riddled with barriers.

The event organized by UN Women, the Global Network for Women Peacebuilders, UNFPA, Peacebuilding Support Office and the Permanent Missions of Bangladesh and Finland, brought together young women from four countries to share experiences and speak about their peacebuilding work. A dialogue with policy makers—Member States and UN experts—provided the space for discussion of the impact of violent conflicts on young women, and the actions they are taking to build peace and prevent conflicts.

Emilie Katungu Katondolo, a member of the Young Women for Peace and Leadership programme in the Democratic Republic of Congo highlighted how participating in entrepreneurship training and gaining economic independence enabled her to more fully participate in her community.

“Teach young women. Provide economic opportunities to combat violence,” said Katondolo. “Support youth initiatives to participate in the public space”.

“How can we support and promote the work of young women? The first step is events like this, providing the space for young women and raising awareness,” said Kai Sauer, Permanent Representative of Finland to the United Nations. Ambassador Sauer highlighted that as Finland works on the first National Action Plan on youth, peace and security and UNSCR 2250, they’ll work directly with youth.

Young women panelists also called on those in positions of power to take youth voices seriously and include them in conversations.

“It is overwhelmingly obvious that youth want to be the change. We hear it every time they speak. They are trying to be the change,” said Katrina Leclerc, a Programme Coordinator for the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders Young Women for Peace and Leadership programme. “We need investments in meaningful participation of youth as global citizens, and we need spaces for young people to gather.”

The event also featured a background paper on young women, peace and security, developed by UN Women as a contribution to the Global Progress Report on Youth, Peace and Security (mandated by the Security Council Resolution 2250 (2015)). Sophie Giscard

D’Estaing, Peace and Security Analyst with UN Women in the Arab States region, presented the paper and emphasized that often youth is viewed as only young men, and only well established, and respected – adult women are viewed as peace and security activists, while young women are often marginalized and discriminated in both policies and programmes related to peacebuilding.

“Now is a crucial moment to influence policy and programme and research to ensure young women are part of the full picture,” said D’Estaing. “Peace and security cannot be built without young women, and it cannot be built for them. It needs to be built with young women and young men.”

The paper calls for clearer reference to the diversity of women and youth in future women peace and security and youth peace and security resolutions and policies, and that inclusion should not be limited to young women’s protection or addressing discrimination, it should also emphasize the positive and transformative role that young women play in building sustainable peace. The agenda needs to include the provision of technical and financial support to peacebuilding initiatives by young women.

“We should not have to keep justifying why women and young women should be part of the most important talks in the world,” said UN Women Deputy Executive Director Asa Regner in her opening remarks. “Women should be included because they have the right to be included. Young women should be included because they have the right to be included. We have to accelerate action to make this happen.”

The side event was part of a series of events organized on women, peace and security. Please visit UN Women’s In Focus: Women, peace and security for more information.


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