As a young woman living in a war-torn country where women are vulnerable in all aspects of life, I am working hard to ensure that young women and girls have access to safe spaces.
Meet Justina Musa, a young South Sudanese woman working as a Project Officer for TOFI (Together for Inclusion), an organization that works with persons with disabilities to ensure that they have access to human rights, inclusive education and economic empowerment. Justina has worked as a volunteer for the Young Women Christian Association South Sudan since 2014. In this conversation, Justina shares about her background in feminist peace building and her passion for women’s leadership.
Justina attended the 2017 Feminist Leadership Institute on Peace and Security. “The training with the Peace Centre sharpened my brain and gave me the motivation to be as strong as I am today. It boosted my passion for feminism and opened doors for me to participate in conferences where my voice matters. Some conferences I participated in included the Human Rights Summit in Geneva and the Commission on the Status of Women in New York. I also got the opportunity to work as a Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights Advisor in Norway” Justina Musa recalls. These interactions increased Justina’s confidence, and have given her courage to start the necessary conversations with strangers and stand and speak in front of a crowd.
Pushed by her dream to create safe spaces for women, Justina led the Let Girls Talk initiative where she sensitizes young women and girls about their rights and how they can claim them. These spaces help them to open up and share their experiences. She explains, “This has been one of the biggest achievements in my life, it is not an easy thing to get young women and girls to open up to you and share their stories with you, this has made me very strong and has given me the hope of standing up on behalf of many women.” The initiative brings young people together to share their experience about sexual health and reproduction and while Justina is proud of the work being done she admits that having support especially in terms of making the safe space enjoyable, providing them with pads, since some can not afford to buy and empowering them economically would push the initiative forward.
Justina’s passion for women’s leadership pushed her to become a change maker. However, she found that this was easier said than done and that is when she joined the Peace Centre’s Feminist Leadership Institute. The institute fueled her passion and she embarked on a journey to encourage more women to actively participate in decision-making processes and join political parties. Justina believed that this would give the young women room to actively be part of leadership processes and achieve their potential while inspiring other young women to realize their dreams.
Justina shares that sisterhood has kept her moving and motivated and is one of the most important things in her life, “I have gained a lot of support from my fellow young women who have become sisters in the journey of my life and the work I am doing”. She shared that interacting with people from different professions, nationalities, and cultures has given her a broader scope of life. “Every time I socialize with people from diverse backgrounds, ages, and points of view, I learn a lot and increase my knowledge” she elaborates.
Justina has big dreams and hopes to do wonderful things in terms of standing up for her fellow young women and girls in South Sudan who are vulnerable in the community and society. As a young woman living in South Sudan where generally women are marginalized out of roles of power and productive wage-paying jobs, Justina shares that she has faced numerous challenges, “Sometimes no one listens to you and you are being denied access to platforms where your voice would matter. You are being followed by security personnel and so on, which has been my biggest fear especially coming from South Sudan where insecurity is at the highest peak.”
Justina enjoys reading and her favorite author is Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Her dream is that Africa will one day have more women leaders.
My advice to the young women aspiring to lead is that let’s support each other and work as a team. I encourage the young women to pursue the training because it will build their capacities to be able to stand for peace and security for the women and girls in Africa. Justina Musa
Every quarter The Peace Centre’s Evelyn Birungi sits with one of our alumnae of the Feminist Leadership Institute to discuss their journey as women peace builders, the contributions they continue to make for feminist peace and security and their hopes for the future in Africa and Asia. To participate or to learn more about a specific woman peace builders, reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org