Young Leaders Are Driving Progress On Gender Equality in Communities Around the World
Young Leaders From 15 Countries Are Driving Progress on Gender Equality in Their Communities With Support From Women Deliver Small Grants
Throughout the past year, on global stages and in communities around the world, young people issued a strong collective call for robust youth engagement and intergenerational co-leadership in order to tackle the world’s most pressing challenges — from curbing climate change to realizing a gender-equal future. Young people’s lived experiences give them unique insight into the challenges facing girls and women — in their communities, countries, and around the world — and the ability to drive real and lasting change where it’s needed most.
Women Deliver Young Leaders have long been leading the way in designing and implementing programs that have a meaningful impact on the lives of girls and women across the world, in all their intersecting identities. Since 2010, Women Deliver’s Young Leaders (WDYL) Program has supported the advocacy work of over 1,000 young leaders from 148 countries, including with 138 Small Grants totaling USD 750,000 that have positively affected the lives of an estimated 5.8 million people globally.
Core to the WDYL program is the recognition that too often, young people’s advocacy efforts are underestimated and under-funded. Women Deliver Small Grants worth USD 5,000 are awarded via a competitive selection process to Young Leaders and Alumni to support the implementation of advocacy projects to advance gender equality in their communities, countries, and regions.
Between December 2020 and June 2021, Young Leaders from the WDYL Class of 2020, as well as Women Deliver Alumni from the Classes of 2018 and 2016 from 15 countries, with a wide range of identities, professions, and advocacy experiences were supported with Small Grants to realize their advocacy goals — including the development, adoption, and maintenance of policies related to gender equality.
Here are some of their stories:
1. Amr Hassan (He/His/Him) (CEO, Empower Hub), from Egypt, brought together and trained 33 young leaders about the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), intersectional activism for gender equality, and community mobilization.
“This grant [enabled me to] shake the table and talk about the dynamics of power and how it is important for every voice to be heard. Because some voices aren’t loud, we need to amplify them.”
— Amr Hassan, Women Deliver Young Leaders Class of 2020
2. Ashlee Burnett (She/Her) (Founder, Feminitt), from Trinidad and Tobago, with her team at Feminitt, donated 120 period kits to people who menstruate, raised menstrual awareness across the country, and launched an online education campaign underscoring the intersections between mental health and gender-based violence.
3. Carly Manes (She/Her) (Leader, DC Abortion Doula Collective), from the United States, with her team, created a youth-friendly book about abortion care that features information about safe abortion, destigmatizes abortion services, and advocates for the repeal of the Hyde Amendment.
4. Darshana Rijal (She/Her) (Student, Saint-Xaviers College), from Nepal, socialized the impacts and root causes of child, early, and forced marriage and gender-based violence with girls and government officials in her community. Her advocacy work resulted in an increase in government funding, programs, and resources to end child marriage at the local level by 2030.
5. Desire Habonimana (He/His) (Legal Representative, Young Women’s Knowledge and Leadership Institute Burundi), from Burundi, spurred policy discussion with local NGOs and officials at the highest levels of government, including 116 Senators, concerning the adoption of new mobile-based technology proven to improve maternal and neonatal health outcomes in rural contexts.
6. Ephraim Kisangala (He/Him) (Medical Doctor, Kairos Hospital), from Uganda, developed and implemented a framework to mainstream gender into all aspects of COVID-19 response and recovery in the country. The framework has supported the successful identification of existing gaps and corresponding recommendations, and is slated for publication in a peer-reviewed journal.
7. Lilian Sospeter (She/Her) (National Representative, National Youth Engagement Network VSO Tanzania) and Rehema George (She/Her) (Knowledge Management Officer and Country Communications Champion, EngenderHealth), from Tanzania, trained 10 healthcare workers from 10 different health centers in their district to provide peer-to-peer training on youth-friendly sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services, and organized weekend health clinics that enabled 890 young people to access SRH services.
“The project has enabled us to have advanced knowledge and skills in advocating for adolescent and youth sexual reproductive health and rights.”
— Lilian Sospeter and Rehema George, Women Deliver Young Leaders Class of 2020
8. Mai Doan To Thuy (She/Her) (Monitoring and Evaluation Officer, Friends for International Tuberculosis Relief), from Vietnam, created a platform for people who have had an abortion to share their experiences and support other abortion seekers. The platform also identifies locations to access safe abortion services across the country.
9. Agita Pasaribu (She/Her) (Founder and CEO, Bully.id), from Indonesia, created the first anonymous platform in Indonesia which connects businesses with volunteers in the academic sector toward the goal of managing, in real time, incidents of online gender-based violence and harassment. Since May 2021, the platform has been used by over 25,000 private sector employees.
10. Peter Mndalasini (He/Him) (SRHR volunteer, International Youth Alliance for Family Planning Malawi), from Malawi, improved access to sanitary pads among primary and secondary school girls by training girls to create reusable sanitary pads and equipping more than 1000 stakeholders with information about the impacts of period poverty, particularly as it concerns school attendance.
“Through this project, I have learned that there is success in unity when you are conducting an advocacy campaign.”
— Peter Mndalasini, Women Deliver Young Leaders Class of 2020
11. Petronella Nduru (She/Her) (Administrator, SHEleader Zimbabwe), from Zimbabwe, launched the Hold her Hand Campaign toward the goal of advocating for comprehensive programming and support for pregnant students, before and after pregnancy, throughout the country. The Campaign sparked conversations in national top-tier media and resulted in the presentation of a ministerial statement to Parliament by a coalition of civil society organizations.
“The grant opportunity has equipped me with practical knowledge and experience of how to be a true advocate, how to fight for the voiceless and speak for those that cannot speak for themselves.”
— Petronella Nduru, Women Deliver Young Leaders Class of 2020
12. Joseph Amoako-Atta (He/Him) (Corporate Communications Personnel, Graphic Communications Group Limited), from Ghana, developed a training manual and series of consultative sessions toward improving the implementation of the revised Ghana Adolescent Reproductive Health Policy & COVID-19 Response in his community. Government and school officials, as well as more than 100 adolescents and young people have benefitted from the training.
13. Mario Rizk (He/Him) (SDGs Advocate, the United Nations Resident Coordinator’s Office in Egypt), from Egypt, analyzed barriers to safe and equitable workplaces in the country via a literature review and qualitative interviews with diverse stakeholders. The literature review resulted in a needs assessment report and launched the creation of a digital toolkit to address existing barriers to an equitable workplace.
14. Mary Egorp (She/Her), from Nigeria, spearheaded the implementation of a comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) curriculum by meeting with government and school officials, as well as students in order to underscore the importance of comprehensive CSE.
15. Matthew (Blaise) Nwozaku (He/Him/His) (They/Them/Their) (Trustee, ReportoutUK), from Nigeria, hosted three panel discussions as part of the #EndHomophobiaInNigeria Campaign in order to advocate for the implementation of policies that protect queer Nigerians and eliminate harmful laws. The panels also served to connect members of Nigeria’s queer community, garnering over 30,000 impressions on social media.
16. Milly Khainza (She/Her) (Volunteer, Red Cross Uganda), from Uganda, hosted meetings with local officials and community members and conducted radio broadcasts to advocate for an improved policy response to sexual violence, exploitation, and teenage pregnancy.
17. Nojus Saad (He/Him) (Relationships Manager, Golistan Humanitarian Organization), from Iraq, developed and disseminated a curriculum to support local government officials, youth, and religious leaders in advocating for a 5% increase in the national budget for the Act of Combating Domestic Violence Law toward the goal of improving gender-based violence programming in marginalized and rural communities.
18. Pravitasari Pravitasari (She/Her), from Indonesia, assembled a team of volunteers and created a training handbook toward the goal of equipping adolescents aged 15–19 in her community with information about their sexual and reproductive health and rights.