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Who knew I could ? (A story of Denise Uwizeyimana)

My name is Denise Uwizeyimana, I am 23 years old. I live in Nyamabuye Sector, Muhanga District. I come from a family of eleven children, I am the fifth born and

we still have both of our parents. I have finished high school in Physics-Chemistry-Biology. I am part of our District’s youth leadership committee, although it was an intimidating position in the beginning. Prior joining Every Voice Counts program, I couldn’t dare to speak in public or look other people in the eyes.

But that has changed. I didn’t know what gender-based violence (GBV) is or who were the common victims of GBV. Now, I have deepened that understanding to a point I can even explain it to my friends and peers in my neighborhood. Before girls and women did not have the right to participate or share their ideas in the planning

activity of Imihigo- the District Performance Contracts or even the family decisions. Things are changing, a woman can express her thoughts when she wants to. In the past, women all used to think that the planning of Imihigo only concerned men and there was no room for women to include any of their ideas but now everything is possible for women.

As the youth, we are participating in different activities organized by the local governance. We have started taking advantage of public events such as Umuganda (community work) and other meetings to engage the youth in the performance contracts planning. All the young people come together and work on their own priorities to be included in the next Imihigo budgeting and planning processes and these are submitted to the local authorities so they can choose the most appropriate and urgent to be included in the District Imihigo.

This involvement has encouraged young people to join other initiatives that improve their livelihoods such as saving schemes and cooperatives. My role with the youth has been to ensure that I share with them the development priorities of our District but also to remind them that their voices count and they should trust their abilities.

I also encourage them to confidently share their ideas without the fear of being ridiculed by others. However, they are some challenges including how to maximize the attendance in our gatherings, some come with the expectations that we will provide the transport stipend instead of focusing on what they can gain from these platforms or think about what they can bring on the table.

My wish is that CARE and other partners could increase the advocacy targeting young people so they can understand that these projects are designed for them. My advice to all young people is to be confident and believe that they can, they should be eager to learn more about government programs and learn how they can also provide their contributions to that.