Stop gender based violence NOW!

created by Amabilis Batamula C |

Stories of change, songs of jubilation, colourful ‘walls of promise’ and food for the mind all filled the recently ended 10th Femina Hip Youth Conference that took place in Dar es Salaam. 150 Participants, came from every region of the country as representatives of their respective Fema Clubs. They experienced days of sharing, learning, play and award winning.

The conference campaign theme, Stop Gender Based Violence, guided activities as participants immersed in captivating sessions on counseling, gender, youth reporting, theatre and lifeskills, among others. There were games, an interactive social media corner and a study tour that took the participants to the University of Dar es Salaam for inspiration.

During break-out sessions they listened to speakers and worked with facilitators from Femina and outside Femina, who explained GBV from various angles. The guest speaker from UNICEF laid out key definitions and asked participants to role play victims and perpetrators of GBV, as a way to understanding the issues. From the Gender and Children’s Desk, a police officer brought a call to action, and made sure to deliver it to teachers and students in attendance. “Our desks are there to facilitate law enforcement, to make sure acts of violence against women and children are acted upon accordingly, but that cannot happen if you and others don’t report these violations.” The ‘safe space’ created at the conference enabled participants to share heartbreaking testimonials on their experiences of violence and receive counselling.

The conference ended with a reflective discussion on the ‘sofa podium’, with experts in the fields of gender and child protection. They came from Children’s Dignity Forum, Plan International and Femina Hip. Special guest, Ulf Källstig, the Head of Development Cooperation at the Swedish Embassy, encouraged boys to challenge gender discrimination, “even when you are the only one that’s feeling something needs to be done,” he said. One of the key take aways from the discussion was that young people can and should become advocates of efforts to prevent GBV. 

Roars of excitement filled the room when the Fema Award moment arrived. It was time to celebrate success and recognize those who did the best in the year 2017. The Best Fema Club Award went to Misungwi Secondary School, Mwanza. Mayombo Charles Lutego, Mnyuzi Secondary School, Tanga won the Best Fema Club Mentor Award. Other awards were Best Fema Clubs Network Mentor – Renatus Sangi, Mara Network and Best Fema Clubs Network – Kilimanjaro.

Equipped with all that, and the hot-off-the-press issue of Fema magazine featuring gender based violence, the motivated Clubbers and their mentors went back home, taking the campaign to their communities. “We are ready to take action,” proclaimed the student who read the vote of thanks at the end of the event. Femina Hip is here to continue to support the clubbers.