The Sister-to-Sister Mentorship program shaped me into a stronger, more hopeful woman. My thoughts have changed as a young activist and I can proudly say I am not where I used to be. I am now a great thinker and I will continue to work towards enhancing feminism in South Sudan.
After the program ended, I thought a lot about what comes next for me. I have decided to pursue a Masters degree in conflict management and peacebuilding so that I can continue to bring change to my country. In the meantime, I am happy that I am still contributing to peace through Play for Peace – South Sudan. My role may not be felt much right now, but I believe that we all have to start from somewhere. I really believe that for change to take place, it has to start with me.
The program gave me so much energy to want to do more. One of the things I look forward to is using social media to interact with activists across the world and to get involved in humanitarian events so that I can build my network. I will also encourage more youths to join me to strive for peace and unity in our country.
I am grateful to the Nobel Women Initiative for offering such an amazing program. The program not only brings young women together from across the globe, but it teaches them the virtue of sisterhood, just as the name suggests. I learnt that although we are from different countries, we have a lot in common, and that is that we want to see that women are happy.
Women’s rights are taking gradual steps in my country. A greater number of women are increasingly becoming involved in the struggle for their rights, especially in the area of justice. The issues I would like to address include, but are not limited to, promoting girl child education, and equality. So many girls have not been able to have the chance to go to school, and I believe that if a girl is educated, then the whole nation will be educated, too. I would also like to help end tribalism, which has eaten up the backbone of my country.
Finally, thanks to everyone that made my stay in Ottawa beautiful and made me feel at home. I am thankful to the entire team: Liz, Rachel, Diana, Ashley, our mentors and everyone who made sure we felt at home. Many of the people I met were very welcoming, and humble—including Nobel Laureates Jody Williams, Mairead Maguire and Shirin Ebadi. They all really inspired me.
Through my peace work, I hope I will inspire and connect with other activists to make our world a better place.
Aluta continua, the struggle continues.
Riya joined us in Ottawa for the 2015 Sister-to-Sister Mentorship Program. She completed six weeks of communications and advocacy training alongside two young women activists from Burma and Honduras. Riya is now continuing her work to promote women’s rights in South Sudan.