Today, (Friday 3rd June), instead of handing in her homework to her teachers, a 16-year-old girl in Iringa District, Tanzania, has handed in a petition with 150,000 signatures to her political leaders.
Eva Tolage, a young campaigner from Malinzanga, Tanzania, and her classmates from Mlowa School travelled to the National Parliament in Dodoma to speak with the Prime Minister and other high-level members of the Tanzanian Government to present their demands in person.
Eva and her community have been leading an effort to ask their Government for clean water in their village since February. With the support of her classmates, youth-led charity Restless Development and anti-poverty group The ONE Campaign, Eva’s petition has been signed by 150,000 people from more than 80 countries around the world - a massive show of support.
Speaking at the event, Eva said:
"My petition is just the beginning. Let’s believe in ourselves, if we use our voices, we will be heard and we can change our lives for the better."
Eva’s schoolmates had written to the previous Tanzanian government last year to ask for clean water and safe toilets at their school - but they never heard back.
Now after months of campaigning locally, with global support, Eva and her classmates have the opportunity to meet the nation’s decision-makers face to face.
Margaret Milwa, Tanzania Country Director for Restless Development, said:
"What started as a letter from Eva and her classmates has swelled into a campaign that has attracted global backing, and proves young people can and do change their communities. Eva's determination to take this petition to her National Parliament is inspiring other young people to show their power and hold their leaders to account - now those leaders need to show they are listening."
Mwambu Wanendeya, Africa Executive Director of ONE, said:
“The Eva Campaign is a story with a profound message which speaks to people around the world who understand her desire to live in a world without poverty. Eva has demonstrated that in a bid to fight poverty in our community, every voice counts - and by adding your voice our leaders are forced to take note and fiercely contribute to the fight to end poverty.”
Stand with Eva is a campaign highlighting the importance of two campaigns: Youth Power, by Restless Development, and “Poverty is Sexist" by ONE.
This is not Eva’s first interaction with leaders. Last year, Eva wrote to US President Barack Obama to say that she and her classmates had big ambitions for their future, but without access to basic things like clean water, electricity and nutritious food, it was hard for them to stay in school and achieve them. Obama endorsed her calls for action in a speech made at the UN General Assembly in September.
Stand with Eva promotes the need for young people to be recognized as the driving force on international development, and for girls and women’s economic and social empowerment to be prioritized by governments in order to end extreme poverty.
For media enquiries please contact:
Bobby Dean at Restless Development, firstname.lastname@example.org / +44(0)7595911816