Abu, 25, Ethiopia
Abu has been engaging with DSW as a youth champion on issues of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) of young people, and significantly contributes to create solutions in the community, including with participation in awareness raising activities regarding SRHR. and other voluntary activities in his community. He also worked in the local youth empowerment centre of his community (Biftubira), where he has been a Youth Coordinator and Coordinator of summer youth voluntary services.
Abu has good advocacy skills to strengthen SRHR knowledge, attitude and practice. His goal is to raise awareness among youths about voluntary service, in collaboration with other peers in his district. Finally, he believes in the importance of empowering youths: this will help them to live a self-determined life.
Ana, 20, Portugal
Ana Só, 20 years old, born in Guinea Bissau but living in Portugal, is an End FGM Youth Ambassador and volunteer activist with the Family Planning Association (APF) based in Portugal, with which she is involved in projects on youth outreach and adolescent sexual health and rights. Currently a university student in Public Administration, Ana is also a member of Association of Guinea Bissau students in Lisbon. Ana is passionate about using her voice to make a change for a better world.
Camille, 23, France
She has been a volunteer for approximately 4 years in Strasbourg for “Le Mouvement Français pour le Planning Familial”, (MFPF), IPPF’s French member association. Camille is a member of the MFPF Youth group, which ensures youth representation in the MFPF and in family planning in general. Camille is a strong advocate for youth participation in governance and her efforts bore fruit at the level of both the MFPF and IPPF. As part of the Youth group, Camille is building a campaign in favour of relationships and sexuality education in France.
Camille is also a member of the Youth Sexual Awareness For Europe (YSAFE), an informal network of young volunteers from the Member Associations of the International Planned Parenthood Federation from the European region. YSAFE strives to improve the Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) of young people at national and regional level in Europe and Central Asia. She has in particular participated in the ongoing YSAFE advocacy project.
For Camille, everyone deserves to be able to access information regarding their rights, to make their own choices and to be free.
Habiba , 21, Tanzania
Habiba is a 21-year old youth champion, originally from Songea Region in Southern Tanzania. Habiba is recently pursuing her Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Geography and Environmental Studies at the University of Dodoma in Dodoma Region. Previously, Habiba studied in Tandahimba Secondary School and Masasi Girls Secondary School in Mtwara region, where she resides.
Habiba is very passionate in community works and volunteerism, especially on issues related to health and environment. She has been active with students’ organisations, on environmental topics and by supporting students on life skills, health, volunteerism and leadership.
Habiba has been involved as a DSW Youth Champion since 2017, being a very active member of DSW Mkombozi group in Tandahimba District.
In the future, Habiba looks forward to continue performing community work, especially sensitizing and training fellow youths on health and environmental issues, youth clubs formation and strengthening and entrepreneurship issues.
Hawa, 23, France
Hawa, 23 years old, born in Mauritania but grown up in France, is an End FGM Youth Ambassador and a volunteer activist for Equilibres & Populations (EQUIPOP). Currently a university student in mathematics in Orleans, once graduated she would like to put her skills into practice in the artificial intelligence field. Hawa is also part of a youth group based in Orleans, which raises awareness on issues that affect youth such as FGM and organises events. As a passionate end FGM and gender equality activist, Hawa feels responsible to speak out for all her sisters in Africa who do not have her same opportunity.
Kashish, 18, Pakistan
Kashish is an 18 year-old student of A-levels second year in Lahore, Pakistan. She has been the head of her school youth club for two years, where she advocated for girls’ right to education, participation and leadership. She has been the head of many delegations in intercollegiate competitions, which helped her brush up her communication skills considerably. She enjoys debating as an activity in school. Kashish has also been nominated as an ambassador for road side schools, where she has taught underprivileged out of school children. At this year’s European Week of Action for Girls she wants represent Pakistan and highlight the significance of girls’ education and empowerment at an international level.
Laura, 19, Ireland
Because of her active involvement she has been on The US Embassies Young Leaders Council, Plan International Youth Advisory Panel and Student Ambassador for the University of Limerick.
“Although growing up in Ireland does include some privileges on gender equality in comparison to other parts of the world. I do face a reality where my makeup or how I dress dictates what I should act like and unfortunately being underestimated is a daily reality for me.
“In recent years in Ireland we have been challenged with many referendums which honestly had the ability to change the lives of myself and my peers, yet we did not get a say! I want to change this” All these reasons make her all the more passionate about including girls’ and young people’s participation in decision-making.
“In recapitulation, I am driven by the passion to make the change I want to see in the world, for all the young people who want to be heard and for all those who don’t feel like they don’t deserve to be heard.”
Lineke, 23, The Netherlands
Lineke is a 23-year old youth advocate from the Netherlands. She did an internship at the Embassy of Belgium in Malaysia, where she focused on women’s and LGBTQ+ rights. She is now part of Plan International’s “Girls Rights Watch” group and working for the Carnegie Foundation Peace Palace in The Hague.
She feels extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to grow up in a country that encourages everyone, regardless of their status or gender, to enrol in educational institutions and build up an independent life.
Therefore, she finds it all the more important that girls and young women all over the world get the chance to study, have a good job and be able to be economically independent. “It’s about breaking harmful traditions.”
“Hopefully one day gender inequality will be a theme that people can’t imagine. A world in which success is not defined by race, gender or sexual orientation.”
Maja, 19, Sweden
Maja is a 19-year-old girls’ and women’s rights activist from Sweden. She has been part of the Swedish Youth Advisory panel of Plan International Sweden since 2015 and a youth representative in the Swedish board since 2016. Therefore Maja is most interested in the topic of girls’ participation in decision-making, because “you will form strong and independent girls that will inspire others in the long term.”
Her dream is a society with equal rights that breaks with the current gender norms and where nobody is surprised when a female boss arrives. “Being a girl in today’s society brings a lot of pressures, about proving that you have a right to talk and decide as much as anyone else.”
Matthijs, 25, Belgium
Matthijs has been a ONE Youth Ambassador for 2 years now! He recently completed his Master in International Relations and Diplomacy at the University of Antwerp and he is now working as a Project Manager at Kisskissbankbank, a crowdfunding platform. He likes traveling, climbing and listening music and has a strong interest in human rights protection and social policy.
Mercy, 21, Kenya
Mercy is engaged as a DSW youth champion on issues of Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) of young people and significantly contributes to solutions in the community, including with participation in awareness creation campaigns in various schools and churches, targeting mainly young people.
Also, Mercy has been advocating towards Members of the County Assembly, making a case for family planning financing and presenting policy gaps on modern contraceptives uptake among young people in the county. She has been involved in advocacy efforts that included the submission of memos during advocacy meetings and public participation to forum with decision makers, pointing out areas that need prioritisation in planning and resource allocation.
Mercy shares information about family planning and SRHR using media and community outreaches. She is dedicated to using her advocacy skills and her degree in Community Health to advance the Sexual and Reproductive Health of young people in Kenya.
Mila Lee, 20, The Netherlands
Mila Lee is 20 years old and just joined the Girls Rights Watch in The Netherlands. Mila Lee is a real advocate to end violence against women. “It is such an important issue but yet people are not keen to talk about it. That’s why I want to do it.”
“When I was eight, I said that I wanted to become the President of The Netherlands, my friends laughed and pointed out no woman has ever been the president. Twelve years later there still hasn’t been one. There are even less women in our parliament now than when I was eight”
“My dream is that by the time I will be pregnant, let’s say in 12 years, it will not matter anymore for the child if it comes out as a boy or a girl.”
Peace, 21, Uganda
Peace Kimono is a youth champion aged 21 from Mukono district (Uganda) and she is active as publicity secretary for the Kyabalongo youth club in Mukono, where she is a peer lead and works to prioritise young people’s needs. She has strong skills on Sexual and reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR), family planning as well as on advocacy. This has allowed her to reach out to young girls and boys in her community to raise awareness on their rights and obligations, including behavioural change and young people’s space. Peace has been also engaging with the local councils and district leaders to present the needs of youth for improved quality of life.
She believes in and works towards seeing young people empowered, confident and having the ability to present their views and opinions to decision makers and policy makers
Rea, 15, Kosovo
Rea was born and raised in Ferizaj. She is fifteen years old and studies at ‘Kuvendi I Arberit’ high school. She is a child rights activist which connected her with Respect our Right (ROR) child monitoring group that is composed of 24 members that advocate for child rights issues at national level.
It all started in elementary school when she was a part of many activities that had the intention to make a change and build a better future for the community.
She was a member of the volunteer club where Rea and her peers would make plans and implement different activities related to child rights and youth activism. Here, Rea’s interest to be part of volunteering activities and contribute to positive solutions for children grew. In 2018, she became a member of RoR and currently leads the Commission of Promotion which seeks to promote the work of RoR and get support from external platforms.
Besides her engagement in advocating for children’s rights, she is a feminist and works toward empowering women and focuses particularly in the area of girl’s and women’s education. According to Rea: “Women and girls in the developing world are often denied opportunities for education, notably Kosovar girls and women. They are often pushed to get married and create a family at every young age, which makes them dependent on their partner’s income. This highlights the importance of an educated woman. Giving girls and women more opportunities to be educated can help them develop skills that allow them to make decisions and influence changes in the community”.
Sara, 16, Finland
Sara is a 16-year-old girl, currently living in Finland. She wanted to participate as she felt it is extremely important to remind people and decision makers about the faces that are affected by decisions. Sara especially wants to focus this time on girl’s rights and how climate change affects this.
“I grew up living in different countries and I have been blessed to see how girls are affected by different issues but most importantly how girls can be the solutions. We have to make sure that everyone is given equal opportunities to be there making the change we need in our society.”
“There are several solutions and the more conversations we start, the better the solutions, as long as we make sure everyone’s ideas are heard.”
Siebe, 21, Belgium
Siebe recently completed a bachelor’s degree in Arabic and Islamic Studies and will start a Master in social and cultural anthropology at the University of Leuven next semester. He is very interested in gender rights and, as a Youth Ambassador has engaged with many high-profile politicians and worked with the public in several grassroots campaigns on different issues. As a result, he appeared in many articles on local and national newspapers. He loves languages, speaking Dutch, English, Arabic, French, Spanish, German and Farsi.