The celebration has honored and recognized sixteen change-makers with the Anti-GBV awards for the past four years. These people have made outstanding contributions to the grassroots efforts to eradicate GBV. Their works demonstrate an incredible amount of creativity, commitment, and passion in really improving the lives of women and girls.
This year awards took a lengthy three months process of voting and vetting. The process was culminated on 7th December 2023, at Cardinal Rugambwa Hall in Dar es Salaam, with award handing ceremony to 16 champions of change.
The 16 individuals that emerged champions after an extensive voting and vetting process were;
ROBERT MMARY – Champion in the fight against early pregnancies
Mzee Nyoka’s dedication shines through his active participation in the parent’s empowerment program under the Shule Salama Club at Mabogini Secondary School. Renowned for his toughness and resilience, he earned the moniker ‘Mzee Nyoka’ from Bodaboda riders for his tireless efforts in protecting schoolgirls from the scourge of sexual harassment and abuse on their way to school.
Situated on the outskirts of Moshi District Council, Mabogini Secondary School faced challenges with students walking considerable distances through challenging terrain. Mzee Nyoka took decisive action when he observed girls being harassed on the road, playing a pivotal role in establishing a local monitoring and security system. This initiative, coupled with his collaboration with teachers and parents to enforce strict measures during school hours, has contributed significantly to the reduction of early pregnancies and sexual violence.
Mzee Nyoka’s efforts have contributed to decrease of sexual violence and dropping of early pregnancies from four when the club was being established to zero at the moment, for girls are now safe and not lured into sexual activities.
ZINDUNA ABDALLAH – Champion among religious leaders combating gender-based violence.
Zinduna serves as the Secretary of the Muslim Women’s Association in the Tabora Region and holds the esteemed position of street ambassador.
Trained in leadership, rights, and responsibilities, Zinduna has tirelessly committed herself to educating her community on the issue of gender-based violence. Through numerous meetings and gatherings, she has engaged with over 1,500 individuals, effectively integrating the crucial agenda of combating gender-based violence.
Zinduna collaborates with leaders from various faiths, bringing people together to raise awareness and educate the community on the pressing issues surrounding violence. Notably, she has actively participated in legal proceedings, taking a stand against perpetrators of gender-based violence. In a particular case, she advocated for justice in the sexual assault of a 7-year-old child, resulting in a life sentence for the 45-year-old suspect.
As a true champion and ambassador against gender-based violence, Zinduna works tirelessly to provide education on reporting instances of abuse. Her commitment to ensuring the safety and well-being of women, children, and youth is truly commendable.
SOPHIA ISSA – Journalist advocating against gender-based violence
With six years of dedicated experience, Sophia has become a relentless advocate for justice, using her platform to address and combat the pervasive issue of gender-based violence.
As a seasoned journalist at Kings FM radio, Sophia’s commitment to raising awareness about gender-based violence and child abuse is unparalleled. Her impactful program, “Tuzungumze Ukatili” (Let’s Talk About Violence), broadcasts every Tuesday from 5 AM to 12 PM, serving as a powerful medium to bring attention to various incidents that demand urgent intervention. Through her program, she has reached over 1 million listeners.
Sophia’s journalistic prowess goes beyond reporting; she has successfully connected victims of violence with crucial support services, fostering healing and resilience. Her notable achievements include exposing incidents such as sexual misconduct among students, rescuing underage victims from exploitative situations, and advocating for the rights and well-being of vulnerable individuals.
One particular case involved Sophia reporting on an underage girl, below the age of 15, who was coerced into quitting school and traveling to the Njombe region to work as a domestic worker. The girl had come from Manyara region, where her employer deceived her by promising to continue her education upon arrival in Njombe. However, instead of receiving an education, she experienced mistreatment and was not paid her wages. Following the report, the police instructed the woman to return the child to Manyara and compensate her for her work. As of now, the child has returned home and is attending second-year secondary school.
Moreover, Sophia’s dedication extends to inclusivity, as she adeptly employs sign language to communicate with those who are hearing-impaired. This unique skill has proven instrumental in reaching and empowering individuals with disabilities, ensuring their voices are heard and their rights upheld.
Sophia’s outstanding contributions have not gone unnoticed; she stands as one of the 100 girls nominated to uplift the status of girls in Tanzania in 2023, through the Tanzania Sheroes initiative, a testament to her impact and influence.
Despite facing challenges, including obstacles in cooperation from authorities, Sophia’s commitment remains unshaken. Today, we celebrate Sophia Issa for her courage, resilience, and compassion in the fight against gender-based violence. Her work is not just reporting; it is a catalyst for positive change.
Rev. Fr. DENNIS OMBENI – Champion among religious leaders combating gender-based violence.
Reverend Father Dennis Ombeni, serving as the child protection coordinator at the Catholic Archdiocese of Arusha, Tanzania, has dedicated over four years of steadfast commitment to addressing and combating gender-based violence. His selfless endeavors extend across communities, from conducting impactful seminars and workshops to providing essential education and counseling services to victims of such acts.
Through his tireless work, Reverend Father Ombeni has significantly raised awareness within the community, encouraging the reporting of incidents without fear and connecting victims with the necessary support systems, including law enforcement agencies. Numerous cases have been reported, with a commendable number finding resolution or reaching a solution at home. His impact is particularly evident in the rehabilitation and support provided to children who have suffered various forms of abuse, allowing them to resume their studies and, in some cases, reunite with their families.
ALUWA MKILINDI Best artist in advocating against gender-based violence
At just 29 years old, Aluwa has not only established herself as a talented artist but has also founded the organization “Theatre Arts Feminists.” Through her innovative use of participatory arts, including drama, traditional dances, and songs, Aluwa has become a powerful force in promoting and defending the rights of women, girls, and children.
Aluwa’s dedication has resulted in significant outreach, impacting over 27,000 individuals across multiple regions, with a focus on both school-going and non-formally educated girls. Despite facing challenges such as financial constraints and occasional marginalization as an activist, Aluwa’s commitment to reaching communities, especially those in unsafe environments, remains unwavering.
Motivated by personal experiences in a community marked by gender-based violence, Aluwa took a proactive and inclusive approach to education. Her incorporation of traditional dances not only captivates audiences but also brings people together, reinforcing her message against violence.
Through her artistic work, she has been able to change the perspective of the surrounding community from tolerating acts of gender based violence to now being able to report such incidents. This is evident after statistics show an increase in reported cases of gender based violence in the neighborhoods around her. The local government acknowledges the impact in her art in these areas.
DEVOTA TWEVE – Champion in the fight against gender-based violence using online platforms.
Devota Tweve, an outstanding champion in the fight against gender-based violence using online platforms. Hailing from the Songwe Region, Devota has dedicated herself to advocating against gender-based violence since 2018, leveraging social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and X (formerly Twitter).
Devota has demonstrated exceptional leadership by effectively utilizing her online presence to condemn, report, and educate on the consequences of gender-based violence. Her initiative, the #NasomaKwanza campaign, has empowered students to bravely report gender-based violence to teachers and government officials. Despite facing challenges such as negative perceptions towards online activism and cultural barriers, Devota remains steadfast in her commitment to creating a safer online environment for all.
Picking from what she sees offline after visiting schools in the Songwe region to educate and guide students on reporting incidents of gender-based violence, and connecting victims with the necessary support services, she takes the conversation online in efforts to seek justice.
After her efforts were recognized by stakeholders and leaders, she has been actively involved in various village and ward meetings to provide education on gender-based violence.
In the pursuit of eliminating violence against women and children, Devota has successfully reached over 12,000 individuals. She has brought to light numerous cases of gender-based violence, including a child married below the age of 18. Devotha reported the case to the police, leading to the child being removed from the marriage and returning to school to continue education.
Devotha also successfully uncovered the case of three children from a single family who were abandoned after their parents separated. These children dropped out of school due to lack of parental care. After reporting the matter to the relevant authorities, the children were placed in a childcare center, reintegrated into school, and are currently continuing their education.
EDEN EZEKIEL WAYIMBA Champion against child marriages.
Mr. Eden Ezekiel Wayimba, who has dedicated over 18 years to championing the cause against child marriage. As the Director of the Usenya Development Society in Katavi, Eden’s commitment and achievements in this field are truly commendable.
Last year, in an act of tremendous courage, Eden risked his own life to rescue a 14-year-old girl from a forced child marriage involving more than 30 young men. His intervention successfully thwarted this harmful practice known locally as ‘CHAGULAGA’, showcasing his unwavering dedication to protecting the rights and futures of young girls.
Eden’s impact extends far beyond individual rescues. Through his extensive efforts, he has educated over 4,000 individuals, including women and children, on children’s rights, gender-based violence, and the detrimental effects of child marriages. His outreach has been instrumental in fostering awareness and understanding within the community.
Notably, Eden has leveraged his influence to mobilize support from government leaders, including the District Commissioner, Regional Commissioner, Member of Parliament for Katavi constituency, and the former Prime Minister Honorable Mizengo Pinda. Together, they have issued official statements condemning customs like CHAGULAGA that perpetuate child marriages, marking a significant step towards policy change.
One of Eden’s proudest achievements is the unity he has fostered within the community, bringing together government officials, traditional leaders, religious figures, and other stakeholders in a collaborative effort to eradicate child marriages. His advocacy has not only saved individual lives but has set in motion a broader movement towards a future where all girls can pursue their dreams free from the shackles of early marriages.
VERONIKA KIDEMI – Survivor of Gender-Based Violence (GBV) who has emerged as a change agent
Veronika Kidemi, a true champion survivor of Gender-Based Violence (GBV). Veronika’s journey to this point has been marked by profound challenges. She faced the unimaginable—a betrayal of trust by the very person who was supposed to protect her, the father of her two young boys. In a horrifying incident, she lost her right hand, the very hand she used to write on the blackboard as a teacher. This ordeal left her on the brink of death, both physically and emotionally. However, through sheer determination and unwavering resolve, Veronika managed to gather the shattered pieces of her life.
Remarkably, she retrained her left hand to continue her role as a teacher, driven by the responsibility of providing for her two precious boys. Today, Veronika is not just a survivor; she is an advocate, a voice for change in the fight against GBV. She uses her own harrowing experience to raise awareness, offering solace and inspiration to others who have suffered, demonstrating that they too can rise from the darkest depths to find their own light.
As the Founder and CEO of Voice of Women Africa (VOWA), Veronika has dedicated herself to the cause of empowering women, challenging societal norms, and fostering a community where survivors of GBV can find support and healing.
MWITA NYASIBIRA – Champion traditional leader in the fight against gender-based violence
Mr. Nyasibira serves as the secretary, showcasing his influential role over the 21 sub-clans of the Kurya community.
Mr. Nyasibira has demonstrated exceptional leadership by actively opposing harmful cultural practices, particularly advocating against female genital mutilation within his community. His transformative journey began with enlightenment from UNFPA training on the consequences of such practices. Not only did he change his own views, but he became a champion, inspiring fellow traditional leaders to embrace positive change.
In the Kurya cultural context, it is traditionally unacceptable for a man to marry a woman who has not undergone FGM. However, Mr. Nyasibira has deviated from this norm by marrying a woman who has not undergone FGM, aiming to demonstrate to the community that uncircumcised women also possess value and can be married.
Remarkably, Mr. Nyasibira’s advocacy has successfully led to the abandonment of female genital mutilation in his community, with ceremonial practices now serving as symbolic gestures rather than perpetuating harm.
Mr. Mwita Nyasibira’s commitment to eradicating gender-based violence and promoting positive cultural change makes him a true hero in our community.
NASSORO HAJI JUMA – Champion in the fight against sexual abuse
Nassoro Haji Juma from Zanzibar — a true champion in the fight against sexual abuse targeting women and children.
Nassoro has dedicated himself to the critical cause of educating communities on gender-based violence, specifically addressing the heinous crime of sexual abuse.
Nassoro’s impact is felt across various platforms, from clubs to Madrasas, where he tirelessly imparts knowledge and awareness about the devastating effects of sexual abuse. Notably, he goes beyond education by actively monitoring and expediting the resolution of sexual abuse cases reported to the police. His efforts ensure that justice is served promptly, even in the face of challenges such as reluctant communities, familial disputes, and logistical constraints.
In addition to his advocacy, Nassoro extends support to survivors, encouraging them not to lose hope and providing crucial psychological assistance. Utilizing online platforms, he educates the community about sexual violence and provides support to victims. He has established a facility called the “Children’s Corner,” where child victims of abuse receive psychological assistance anonymously and are taught methods to prevent and protect themselves from future incidents.
Despite encountering obstacles such as delays in legal proceedings and limited resources, Nassoro persists in his mission with resilience and dedication. His collaboration with various institutions and successful exposure of egregious cases, such as a father’s abuse of his own child, highlights his commitment to justice.
MPULAN KASHINDYE – Champion in the fight against violence towards people with disabilities.
Mr. Mpulan Kashindye from Tarime district in Mara region, a true champion in the fight against violence towards people with disabilities.
As a dedicated educator at a school for children with special needs, particularly those with intellectual and physical challenges, Mpulan has implemented innovative strategies to address and prevent violence.
His commitment is evident in various initiatives, including educating students on violence prevention, fostering unity through clubs that bring together children with and without disabilities to discuss challenges, and advocating for awareness in the broader community through media channels. Mpulan’s efforts extend beyond the classroom, encompassing teacher meetings and involving parents to address societal beliefs that hinder the progress of children with special needs.
Mpulan and fellow teachers offer therapeutic exercises to help children with physical challenges. Their school also addresses cases where families hide children with disabilities by providing them with education and psychological therapy. They sometimes use Religious references with a goal to help parents accept and appreciate their children with disabilities, fostering community acceptance beyond viewing their children as a burden.
Despite facing challenges such as ingrained prejudices and a lack of professionals in relevant fields, Mpulan remains undeterred in his mission.
SALHA AZIZ – Champion in the domain of sexual reproductive health rights
Salha has been a driving force in effecting positive change, using social media as a powerful advocacy tool.
As a peer educator under organizations like UMATI, YouCan, and TIMIZA MALENGO, Salha has tirelessly worked to elevate awareness and understanding of reproductive health issues among millions of youth, both within and outside formal education systems. Her dedication is evident in her successful endeavors to ensure the development of youth-friendly policies, making accurate information and reproductive health services accessible.
Salha’s impact extends beyond education, as she has played a crucial role in assisting young women in accessing post-abortion care, family planning methods, and HIV testing. Despite facing challenges rooted in cultural norms and self-stigma among youth, Salha’s advocacy has paved the way for significant strides in breaking down barriers to information and services.
Salha underscores the community’s responsibility to tackle reproductive health issues, stressing their key role in diminishing unplanned pregnancies, fatalities from unsafe abortions, and the prevalence of HIV/AIDS among young individuals. Additionally, she urges the government to persist in investing in youth health, highlighting the youth’s significance as the nation’s workforce. Salha further calls on development partners to allocate adequate resources to reproductive health projects for the youth, particularly those centered on Social Behavior Change, to actively contribute to the nation’s advancement.
LYDIA CHARLES (PANDA DIGITAL) – Champion leveraging technology to advocate against gender-based violence
Lydia stands as a true champion, leveraging technology to advocate against gender-based violence and empower young women in Tanzania.
Panda Digital, under Lydia’s leadership, has pioneered the first Swahili hybrid e-learning platform, addressing the pressing issue of young women’s unemployment by providing access to skills, opportunities, and personalized business support. This innovative platform utilizes a website and AI SMS technology, ensuring accessibility, affordability, convenience, and simplicity for young women in Tanzania.
The uniqueness of Panda Digital lies in its dedication to addressing the intersectional needs of young women who often face language barriers, lack basic digital skills, and struggle with financial autonomy. By offering a simple platform for skill development in Swahili, without additional costs, and at their own pace, Panda Digital enables young women to participate in the global opportunities arising from digital transformation.
Panda Digital goes beyond conventional initiatives by not only providing digital skills but also facilitating access to social justice for young women entrepreneurs who are victims of sextortion. The Ongea Hub, a Swahili digital platform within Panda Digital, serves as a crucial bridge between young women and institutions offering legal, psychological, social, and emotional support. This platform provides a safe and reliable space for girls to share their experiences and seek help.
Despite facing challenges such as poor connectivity, device affordability issues, and cybercrimes, Panda Digital has made remarkable strides. With over 5,000 users on the website and AI-powered SMS, more than 200 young women benefiting from the Ongea Hub section, and over 3,000 young women enhancing their skills and improving their businesses, Panda Digital has made a tangible impact.
The Ongea Hub has not only empowered young women but has also created 20 anti-sextortion champions, fostering change agents in their communities. These champions have directly reached over 230 youth and influenced an astonishing 5 million more through online campaigns.
Such exceptional achievements have not gone unnoticed, as Panda Digital and Lydia Charles have received well-deserved recognition from global and national platforms, including the Rooden Berry, Funguo, and Tanzania Digital Awards.
Lydia’s commitment to empowering young women and combating gender-based violence through Panda Digital is truly commendable, and we are honored to present her with this well-deserved award.
VALERIAN FELIX MGANI – Champion in the fight against female genital mutilation.
Mr. Valerian Felix Mgani as a true champion in the fight against female genital mutilation (FGM) in the Mara region of Tanzania. For over a decade, he has dedicated his life to eradicating this harmful practice.
Mr. Mgani’s impact is remarkable, having rescued over 4,600 girls at risk of undergoing FGM. This was achieved through the establishment and management of rescue camps operated by ATFGM Masanga, serving as a refuge for children especially during the FGM season in November and December.
In his role with ATFGM Masanga, Mr. Mgani has demonstrated unwavering commitment, influencing communities to abandon the harmful tradition through public meetings and educational programs in schools. He also coordinated cross-border efforts to combat the illegal transportation and mutilation of children.
Addressing FGM directly, Mr. Mgani successfully persuaded 15 traditional circumcisers to become educators, spreading awareness about its harmful effects. He played a crucial role in the arrest of seven individuals involved in the illegal trafficking of children for FGM, emphasizing the legal consequences of such actions.
At one point, Mr. Mgani physically went to the bushes where the traditional circumcisers perform their rituals, he risked his life to understand exactly what they were doing. Through this experience he later fostered a dialogue with them and encouraged a shift in their perspectives.
Mr. Mgani’s collaborative efforts with traditional elders and circumcisers have been instrumental in transformative changes. Circumcisers, through training provided by his initiatives, have transitioned into alternative income-generating activities, signaling a positive shift away from FGM.
Despite challenges, including resistance from traditional leaders and politicians, Mr. Mgani’s dedication has brought about positive changes in the Kurya community.
GEAH HABIBU Champion against domestic violence
It is with great honour that we acknowledge the exceptional contributions of Geah Habibu, a true champion against gender-based violence targeting domestic workers, as we present her with this well-deserved award. With over a decade of experience as a seasoned journalist, Geah has dedicated her career to shedding light on gender-based violence that occurs within Swahili households.
Through her programs, “Heka Heka” and “Ya Walimwengu,” Geah fearlessly addresses issues of gender-based violence. Her commitment extends beyond mere reporting, as she actively pursues solutions and justice for those affected. Geah’s impact is unmistakable in the tangible results of her work, with numerous cases successfully addressed by relevant authorities. Over the course of a decade, Geah has brought to light more than 100 cases of gender-based violence, the majority of which have been effectively handled by relevant authorities.
She vividly remembers several cases that she exposed through the media which led to perpetrators being brought to justice. Such cases include:
- A father sexually assaulted his own mentally disabled daughter, impregnating her and infecting her with HIV in the Kibaha region. Upon hearing this news, she conducted an investigation to confirm its authenticity before sharing it online. Activists became aware and supported the victim by representing her in court, leading to the perpetrator receiving a life sentence.
- Another incident involved a Madrasa teacher in the Magomeni area, where she received information that he was sexually abusing children, even within the mosque premises. She pursued and broadcasted this information in the media, leading to the suspect’s arrest. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison, but he appealed to the High Court. Fortunately, the High Court increased the sentence to life imprisonment. He further appealed to the Court of Appeals, the final court, and they also upheld the life sentence.
- Additionally, another incident involved a domestic worker who was murdered at her employer’s residence in the Tabata area. Sadly, the deceased had no relatives nearby; she was from Ngara. Geah received a call from nurses at the Hospital who suspected foul play by the employer after seeing the body brought to the hospital, claiming suicide.
Geah has demonstrated resilience, often personally funding transportation to reach the sites of reported incidents. Geah’s dedication to creating positive change extends to her aspiration to one day establish an institution focused on handling cases of domestic violence and abuse against children. Her work not only educates communities but empowers them to speak up against abuse and injustice.
In honoring Geah Habibu today, we recognize a journalist who goes beyond headlines, embodying the principles of solution journalism. Her stories are not only heard; they lead to action and, most importantly, justice.
EDWIN MUGAMBILA – Champion in the fight against human trafficking.
Edwin Mugambila, a true champion in the fight against human trafficking. Over the years, from 2016 to 2020, Edwin has demonstrated unwavering dedication and leadership, spearheading campaigns that have led to substantial legislative changes, fortifying collective efforts against this heinous crime.
Notably, in 2022, substantial changes were made to the Anti-trafficking in Persons Act of 2008, incorporating his recommendations presented before the Parliamentary Committee, conveyed through media channels, and expounded upon in academic writings.
Through his role at Tanzania Relief Initiative (TRI), has played a role in collaborating with the Ministry of Home Affairs, contributing to the training of 570 law enforcement officers nationwide. His initiatives have resulted in increased efficiency, with numerous cases brought to court, victims rescued, and criminals prosecuted.
Edwin’s impact extends beyond legislation and law enforcement. His efforts have directly led to the rescue of 320 trafficking victims between 2020 and June 2023, reuniting them with safe accommodations and, ultimately, their families. His commitment has provided hope and support for these individuals as they reintegrate into normal life.
As the founder of a network boasting 105 active members, Edwin has successfully united stakeholders in a collaborative effort against human trafficking, fostering increased motivation, awareness, and solidarity in Tanzania’s fight against this crime.
In his technical expertise, Edwin has played a crucial role in formulating and implementing government action plans, strategically influencing the reduction of human trafficking in our country.