Rebeca Gyumi Features

19 Dec Tanzania’s Unheard Voices — Rebeca Z. Gyumi

Education is that facet of our lives that entirely define our prospects and to a large extent — our future. Through education, we’re given the tools of prosperity — and the ability to effect change. Rebeca Gyumi believes in that power and is the face of change in Tanzania.

The distinguished 31-year-old Tanzanian is an avid defender of education and its importance in the lives of young girls. In a country where over 70% of the girls that are married are under the age of 18, Rebeca knew she had a role to play.

Child marriage stems from a number of factors, ranging from uneducated decision makers, cultural norms and security purposes. It is a cruelty that inhibits the mental growth of the children and hampers societal development. It is also common practice for young girls to remain uneducated as they’re earmarked for marriage and have gender roles imposed on them. These do not include education.

Rebeca advocates for the rights of these girls through her NGO — Msichana Initiative. Her aim is to empower those without a voice and combat the forces that prevent education. Her work as an advocate has proven very effective.

In 2016, her arguments won her the landmark ruling to raise the legal age of marriage from 14 to 18. A feat she was glorified for by UNICEF through the ‘Global Goal Award’ and also voted the ‘Woman of the Year 2016’ by New Africa Magazine — all accolades of her hard work.

Her persistence and change-fueled zeal have also won her the 2018 UN Human Rights Prize. It is clear that she is the harbinger for a child-marriage free Tanzania. Rebeca strongly merits all her achievements to the fact that her education was ensured as a child.

The fact that I’m here today and doing what I’m doing is due to education. My family didn’t have a lot but they sacrificed what they had to give me an education.” — Rebeca Z. Gyumi

Rebeca envisions a future where she silences those that discourage education. She’s experienced boys tell young girls of their limitations. She firmly believes that education speaks for itself against those that pigeonhole. “To explore life without limit”, this is the fundamental goal she hopes to achieve for those in Tanzania.

A key motivator for Rebeca was the individuals she interacted with. The lack of information was the key ingredient for the prevalence of these circumstances. She exclaimed that those that wanted to fight, didn’t know how to challenge what was happening to them. This ignited her passion to be that advocate. She expressed her sorrow for what she faced when attempting to bring change to the minimum legal age. She was discouraged and told that she was headed for failure, much like the others before her. However, her passion strung along organizations that backed her through it and got her the result that was necessary.

Rebeca’s passion in her mission is the catalyst for change. Tanzania has seen change and will continue to with Rebeca in its corner. Education will continue to be the tool that reforms life across the globe.

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