In accepting the inaugural IVLP Alumni Award for Social Innovation and Change, an award made possible by Board Member and fellow alumnus Vicente López-Ibor Mayor, Tanzanian lawyer and activist Rebeca Gyumi called her participation in the IVLP a “game-changer” in her personal and professional development.
Rebeca, Founder and Executive Director at Msichana Initiative, which works to empower girls through education, remarked that the activism she saw in the U.S. during the 2013 IVLP American Youth: Inspiring Leadership and Civic Participation inspired her to elevate her engagement to the next level. Through the petition she filed in 2016 at the High Court of Tanzania, Rebeca’s victory in this landmark case meant raising the minimum age for marriage (for both boys and girls) to 18.
Rebeca discussed her passion for activism and hope that youth within her country, across the African continent, and around the world would answer the call, “acting, not just talking, to make a difference in our communities.” She added, “We can’t wait for our governments or leaders to change our communities… young people are at the center.”
Describing the motivation behind what has become her life’s work, she said, “I’ve never seen or heard of a country able to reach its fullest potential without investing in the largest groups in the population.” Noting that the award, given this year for the first time to honor an IVLP Alumna/us for outstanding achievements in driving social change through innovation, is “just the beginning,” Rebeca said, “empowered women raise empowered girls,” and she hoped to serve, though action, as an example for “young Rebecas” in Tanzania and around the world.
Learn more about the Global Ties U.S. IVLP Alumni Award for Social Innovation and Change.
by Jeanne Briganti, Senior Advisor, Global Ties U.S.