Elizabeth Riziki – Tanzania

Date: September 9, 2015
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When I worked with Tanzania Youth Vision Association (TYVA), I led the organisation although I was only 23 years old. As a young woman I was elected to lead a vibrant youth organisation with branches all over Tanzania. Due to the activities of its activists, organisations that were looking for a favour from government avoided us. Once when we marked AIDS day, a partner pulled out at the last minute and I encouraged my committee to continue with the event without the partner by cutting unnecessary costs. The event went well and even the team was surprised as they had been disappointed and heartbroken because we needed money for some of our operations. It was significant that as a leader I managed to stand firm with regard to the organisation’s goals and prove that with the correct leadership things can move forward without partners.

My journey of leadership started in high school. I was a prefect, head girl, grand councillor of the school students’ council and founder of the organisation “Committed Youth for the Poor”, an organisation committed to help the most needy young people surrounding my school community. I was the chairperson of the youth organisation, a facilitator, a public relations officer for a youth cultural organisation and a member of other related youth organisations.

In relation to gender, I worked to inspire young girls through the councillors’ group, showing them that girls need empowerment, but are capable of excelling in every field to which they commit. I was trained and worked with the Tanzania Gender Networking Programme (TGNP) as well as the Tanzania Women Lawyers Association (TAWLA) as a poll watcher for the 2010 elections. I undertook facilitation activities with different organisations such as Kinondoni Youth Parents Crisis Counselling Centre where I spent a lot of time on behaviour change with regard to girls and letting them know that the future is theirs.

As a young female leader at TYVA, I worked to inspire young girls in the movement towards the changes we anticipate. For instance, the Youth Council made a presentation to Parliament in 2015.

My mission is to make our society understand that a female member of society is not just a helper, but is a part of the positive change that any society anticipates; and this is only achieved if every female member of society does things to the best of her ability.

My key activities include facilitation of programmes and projects. I also write proposals, oversee the progress of projects and the monitoring and evaluation of projects. I consult on different organisational operations, projects or programmes. I am a proposal writer for business and a consultant. As a good facilitator and presenter, I sometimes work as an event organiser and coordinator.

One of the key challenges I have encountered was working with older men who, due to their upbringing, tend to think young women cannot perform as well as men. This happened when I worked in a company as a manager of two departments headed by men. I constantly requested reports and clarity on these and at first the men did not believe in my ability to lead or my knowledge of the job that I was hired to do, until they realised that my advice was necessary for their own operations and their survival in the company.

The result was that sales improved and there were positive changes in the company, such as product rejuvenation, rebranding, improved debt collection, paying debts on time (a big issue in the company), managing goods returned as well as expanding the business.

It is through gender championship that I found my gift of leadership. It is through gender championship that I found myself improving in my day to day activities. My ability to stand firm as a leader is a result of gender sessions that showed me how to see things from a different perspective from society and realise that as a women I have a lot to offer.

The reason this has changed is because it is only through gender seminars and dialogues that one finds the strength to stand up as a woman and see things differently from the way the society expects of you, because of its on historical background and people’s upbringing. The main factors that were responsible for part of the change include my motivation to be a leader, the need for change in terms of the perception of a girl child and support from my family and the people around me who believed in my capabilities.

“Sister Elizabeth Riziki you a role model any girl in the organization will like to look at…” Nkabahat Nkeku, a member of Tanzania Youth Vision Association.

I managed to inspire more young women to join the association and prove their abilities to lead and to be part of the movement for the change that they want. As I speak the country chairperson is a woman by the name of Nuria.

The change in my life has brought a number of significant changes to my organisation. For example, after my leadership other strong young women emerged who not only do their best for the organisation and society, but also represent the country at international level. Chikulupi Sakala, a member, once said, “Thanks to TYVA and its leaders, they have brought me where I am.”

In my community, as a good example of a young woman and a leader, I have mobilised young women to join hands and participate fully in the coming elections.

In my society, there are young women who are moved by my independence and the changes in my life and see me as a role model. Jackline Mmari, a student at Mbeya College of Business Education once said, “I am moved with your activities, it is true a girl can bring much more changes than expected”.

I create new knowledge through the gender training and dialogues in which I participate.

“…on this matters of public expenditures and transparency, Elizabeth you have taught well as an expert in the matter. I am impressed”. Mama Rehema, Country Chairperson of the Organisation of Deprived People.

I undertook training to educate people on how to follow up public fund expenditures at local government level.

I found it challenging to work with older men who think young women cannot perform as well as men. The lesson I learned was never to stop working to your best ability merely because you find opposition due to gender issues. All that matters is working hard and smart by understanding gender issues when they arise and controlling them wisely. This helped me become a good leader.

All my life I have wanted to see changes in my society. I like to see everything done as well as it can be and this is mostly when women are involved. I have currently opened a company called Ideal Experts that will involve consultancy work with different experts in different fields. I am looking forward to working as a good political leader, to spearhead positive change for girls and young women especially in their understanding of the basics of politics and how it affects our daily lives so that they involve themselves even further in the movement. I also want to ensure that men understand more about women in my society.


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