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Meet Rebeca Gyum

The Msichana Initiative, Tanzania

Rebeca is a lawyer, activist and the Founder and Executive Director of the Msichana Initiative, a non-governmental organization based in Tanzania, which advocates for girl’s rights to education.

We had the privilege of meeting Rebeca at one of the Grumeti Fund Girls Empowerment Sessions where she was the keynote speaker.

Rebeca is a fierce advocate for girls’ rights and believes in the power of educating girls. Through her work with the Msichana Initiative, Rebeca is working to change society’s perception of young girls and helping families realise the importance of empowering girls.

The Msichana Initiative has reached over 258 000 girls to date and inspired these girls to determine their own future, stand up for their rights, advocate for social, political and economic change, and take control of their reproductive health rights.

One of the core focuses of the Msichana Initiative is the connection between empowering young girls and women through education and economic empowerment. Rebeca believes that gender equality and women empowerment can be achieved if girls and women are empowered economically.

The Msichana Initiative works to empower women economically by providing access to education, creating economic opportunities and fostering economic independence in women, providing access to resources and protecting women from violence.

To put girls from different backgrounds together to share sisterhood, solidarity around issues that girls are facing in their communities is very powerful.

- Rebeca Gyum

Over 1600 young girls from local communities in the Serengeti region of Tanzania attended the Girls Empowerment Session where Rebeca shared her story and urged the girls not to be defined by their circumstances, and to be confident and assert their rights, especially their right to education.

The young girls attending the Empowerment Sessions come from different backgrounds and are all facing challenges like poor access to education, period poverty, gender bias, child marriage, violation of their reproductive rights and often come from families facing extreme poverty.

The Grumeti Fund’s Empowerment Sessions, which are part of their Community Outreach Programme are hosted a few times every year and are aimed at empowering and supporting girls and equipping them with the knowledge, resources and skills they need to overcome these challenges and pursue their schooling career.

Having strong female role models like Rebeca, who not only recognise the potential young girls have but who have also experienced similar challenges and are using their stories and platforms to make a difference can be life-changing for the girls attending these Empowerment Sessions. 

“Women like myself are privileged to be here to share our stories. Our role is crucial to guide girls to understand that there is work to be done – And that work is investing in yourself, investing in your education and also looking at challenges as opportunities.”

Rebeca is teaching girls that their role in society should never be underestimated and proving that your background and the obstacles you face do not determine your potential. Rebeca is an incredible role model and she is using her story to make a difference and change the narrative for young girls around the world.

Photos by James Suter, Chris Joubert and Alizè Jireh.

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Learn more about the Msichana Initiative and how you can help support girls' rights here.

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