I am Generation Equality because
Abel Koka knows that knowledge is power. Through his advocacy, he wants to arm communities with the knowledge that gender equality is good for everyone and every community, and that everyone, including men and boys, has a role in making it happen.
“The world is changing very fast, and we can't talk about ‘I’, we have to talk about ‘we’,” Abel says. “We have to think about the families and communities beyond ourselves. Everyone needs to be a gender equality activist, because gender equality benefits everyone. There is an opportunity for every man and boy to encourage the empowerment of women and girls in their own families and communities. When women are empowered, progress accelerates.”
“Everyone needs to be a gender equality activist, because gender equality benefits everyone.”
Youth leading change
Abel, 30, works to raise awareness among youth in Tanzania about the Sustainable Development Goals and Family Planning 2020 – international frameworks that can be used to hold governments accountable and spark change.
“Young people make a significant proportion of the world’s population right now. We are many, and we are facing a lot of challenges, but we also have the power, the skills, and the ability to make their communities better,” Abel says. “Our world leaders have pledged to take action, so the members of a community must really mobilize ourselves to ask for accountability.”
As a young man, Abel wants his male peers to understand how to use their voices for good.
“Find your passion and then be at the forefront of making your communities better. You need to see yourselves as part of the solutions to the challenges that you face.”
One of the most urgent issues Abel has seen is the lack of awareness and information available about women’s reproductive health and rights. When women have access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive education, they can make choices about their bodies and families.
Sexual and reproductive education and rights
“The lack of sexual and reproductive education and services makes so many other issues worse. For example, young women leave school because of teenage pregnancies,” he explains. “We need to encourage our leaders to invest in this topic. We can’t keep being reactive, we need to be proactive.”
Photo credits (header image):
Abel Koka, a member of UN Women’s Beijing 25 Youth Task Force, works to raise awareness of reproductive rights in Tanzania. Photo: UN Women/Amanda Voisard
Three actions you can take to be part of Generation Equality:
Learn about the promises and pledges made by world leaders and your community leaders on making gender equality and family planning a reality
Attend community meetings and forums to call for accountability from leaders
Join the conversation using #GenerationEquality