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A young changemaker's crusade for women’s involvement in governance

27 mai, 2024


Yassin Nimubona, a young visionary from Muyinga province, Burundi, is leading a cause that aligns with the nation’s goals - enhancing women’s involvement in governance and decision-making. Although Burundi has adopted international instruments and national policies to promote gender equality, the number of women in leadership roles remains low. As Burundi aims to be an emerging country by 2040 and a developed one by 2060, the necessity to tap into the potential of women, who make up more than half of the population, is urgent.

Yassin, who heads the social affairs department in the Muslim Community of Muyinga province and is responsible for recruiting new members and providing ethics training within the National Council for the Defense of Democracy—Forces for the Defense of Democracy (CNDD-FDD) party, set out on a path that would reshape his views on gender roles and ignite a passion for advocating for women's rights.

The turning point in Yassin's journey came in September 2023, when he attended an awareness-raising training course on "Citizen participation, good governance, leadership and positive masculinity". This course, offered by the Synergies for Peace III project (SfP III), aimed to foster inclusive and collaborative livelihood and social cohesion initiatives. Reflecting on his past mindset, he admitted, "Before the training, I thought that women were incapable of managing important affairs, that they could only take care of household chores. This conception was nurtured in me by the practices of my religion, which does not emphasise women's participation in governance." However, the training on positive masculinity sparked a profound change in Yassin, as he revealed, "I began to give more consideration to my wife and to all women in general.

Empowered by this newfound perspective, Yassin started promoting women's involvement in decision-making. He advocated for the appointment of women at the nursery school where he works and spearheaded efforts to include women in decision-making positions at the communal level in Muyinga province. Yassin established two groups, "Mukenyezi Girijambo" and "Terimbere Bibondo," with 40 and 35 members, respectively, comprising both women and men but with a majority of women. These groups aimed to provide a platform for raising awareness and coaching women to ensure their effective participation in governance.

Yassin's commitment to gender equality was reflected in the groups' organisational structure, as he emphasises, "Each group's committee is made up of seven people, with four being women, and the chairman must be a woman, as stipulated in the code of conduct."

Yassin's initiatives have had a profound impact on the residents of the Kiswahili district of Muyinga. His efforts have empowered women, making them more aware of their rights and inspiring some to pursue decision-making roles.  Safia Miburo, secretary of the "Terimbere Bibondo" group, shared her experience: "I was already intrigued by the fact that it's always men who head our hills, but I did not know that the law also grants this right to women! Now, thanks to Yassin's teachings informing us that women have the same rights and duties as men when it comes to governance, I felt challenged to get myself elected in the next hill elections to carry the women's voice far and wide."

Yassin's efforts also challenged traditional gender norms and influenced men's perceptions of women's roles in decision-making. Jumapili Gahungu, an area manager and group member, observed, "Yassin's teachings have already borne fruit. Only men were in leadership positions, but now there are women in these groups vying for posts of hill leader and other decision-making positions."

As Burundi prepares for legislative elections in 2025, initiatives like the one launched by Yassin Nimubona are vital in promoting gender equality and women's participation in governance. His commitment to advancing this cause demonstrated the influence of education and advocacy in challenging gender disparities and fostering inclusive societies. Yassin emphasises the importance of women's contributions: "The role of Burundian women is essential for our community's development, considering their majority representation in the Burundian population."

In the Muyinga province, a young changemaker's crusade for gender equality is gaining momentum. It is inspiring a generation to embrace the principles of inclusive governance and paving the way for a future where women's voices are reinforced and their leadership potential is realised.