Happy’s Story

I knew I wanted to address GBV in my community and I needed to learn more about rights and how to hold leaders accountable to their commitments on GBV.

Happy Balisidya is a 28-year-old young feminist from Tanzania.

She is passionate about fighting for equality in their community. Her experience learning and advocating for gender justice revolves around global commitments on gender-based violence and gender equality SDG 5.

Happy Balisidya attending Data Dissemination Dialogues on youth understanding on the availability of government youth funds.

Fighting Gender-based Violence.

I started by raising awareness in my school and college about GBV and how it impacts the chance of women and girls to fulfill their potential.

Happy Balisidya

Violence against women and girls is one of the most pressing human rights violations in Tanzania.

In Happy’s community, GBV takes different forms. From physical violence and sexual violence to structural violence. All these affect the rights and opportunities of women and girls to succeed in the community and also hinder the achievement of the SDGs.

I was born and raised in a patriarchal community. While growing up I witnessed some of the neighbors’ families in which women were beaten by their husbands and nothing was being done.

Happy Balisidya

Such experiences motivated Happy to begin addressing GBV in her community.

I used to attend community meetings to ask questions on what the government was doing to address GBV. I wanted to see if there were existing government bodies that could receive a complaint from women [and other survivors of violence] that could help start due processes to address them.

Happy Balisidya

Challenging Decision-Makers

Happy began mobilizing young people in her community by raising awareness on gender equality and GBV, and the critical need to demand access to services. She and her fellows organized youth groups to attend community meetings and raised their voices to demand specific access to post-GBV services.

After I became a Youth Accountability Advocate for Restless Development’s Youth-Led Accountability for Gender Equality program I started learning more about gender equality, accountability, and how to be an active citizen.

Happy Balisidya

As a result, decision-makers pledged to convene community meetings and created a committee of community members and experts called the “Mother and Children Protection Committee” at each ward. The committees were tasked with receiving and hearing all GBV cases from women, girls, and children.

Happy Balisidya (right) meeting with the committee representative.

Their efforts have opened the door for community members, especially women, girls, and children to seek support from their community.

We prepared Action Plans to track the establishment of the committees and support our demand for services. The Tanzanian government heeded our demand and established 4 Mother and Children Protection Committees in 4 wards.

Happy Balisidya

Advocating for change.

What I did from the very beginning was identify the key decision-makers such as Community Development, Social Welfare, Planning, Medical and Police Officers who have the power to act or deliver our demands.

Happy Balisidya

Happy trained and mobilized more young people to have a shared understanding of their demands. They eventually succeeded in their discussions with elected officials and leaders where they presented themselves as key partners – or young leaders who wanted to contribute towards the eradication of all forms of violence against women, girls, and children in the community.

We wanted decision-makers to see youth as leaders of today and tomorrow whose role in transforming the community should not be taken for granted. My fellow youth should understand that they have what it takes in driving positive changes in the community.

Happy Balisidya

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