Dorah Tsatsi has been a member of ActionAid South Africa’s (AASA) Young Urban Women project since its inception in 2013. She believes the project has helped broaden her horizons and also provided a safe space for other young women who are struggling. AASA recently supported Dorah in attending the annual Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) held at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, USA. Dorah shares her experiences in the blog below.
Firstly, I would like to thank ActionAid for the awesome opportunity to have represented Young Urban Women (YUW) on a panel at the CSW61 in New York City, last month. This was my first-ever trip outside South Africa, to an iconic gathering exploring the wellbeing of women across the globe.
It was an absolute honor and privilege to speak about the collective experiences and circumstances under which young women live, in Alexandra Johannesburg. I spoke about the importance of recognizing women’s unpaid care work; the need to for better access to sexual and reproductive health rights; and the importance of gender specific services— all of which contribute to women’s economic autonomy. Meeting and interacting with women from different parts of the world, with similar values and ambitions to improve the status of women across the globe, was inspiring. It is extremely rewarding and worthwhile to be a part of a movement of women pushing for positive change in their communities. It was also incredible to meet likeminded people who wanted to highlight the needs of young women in urban areas of developing countries such as, Ghana and India— where ActionAid has been working with other young urban women. The project has helped encourage confidence within women who are usually (and preferably) seen and not heard, to start conversations with their families and local governments, so they can demand control over their lives in order to break the cycle of poverty maintained by gender inequalities at home and in the work place.
Having the power to make life-changing decisions like, getting married later in life; having larger age gaps between children or not having children at all; and choosing how to invest their income once they have earned it, has a profound impact on women’s independence and wellbeing. The YUW project made me aware that I have sole ownership over my rights, my body and my income. It also helped me understand my rights as an employee and what decent working conditions are. I am also better able to negotiate household duties with my mother and brother so that I have enough time to study. I am forever grateful to ActionAid for initiating the YUW project, for supporting me and thousands of other women to change their lives for the better through education in safe spaces. I hope next year, another young women will be able to experience this journey and share their lessons at the CSW62, in 2018!