An 'ambassador' for people's rights.

 
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I was born in 1988, a time of economic hardship in my country, Tanzania, which was going through a structural adjustment programme.

During this period, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund required countries experiencing economic difficulties to withdraw subsidies for social programmes before obtaining new loans. It was also a time of multiple global crises, of wars and coups d'etat in many African countries, the collapse of the Soviet Union and the fall of the Berlin Wall. The UN was deeply engaged in resolving many of these crises.

I am a child of the new world order. I believe in democracy and multilateral diplomacy-working together for the common good of humanity. In my country they call me Balozi-a Swahili word for 'ambassador.'

I helped establish UN clubs in many secondary schools in Tanzania. I am currently the vice president of the UN Association (UNA) in my country. I am also on the board of directors of Msichana Initiative, a girls' rights advocacy initiative founded by activist Rebecca Gyumi.

High court suit

In 2016, Msichana Initiative filed a suit in the High Court of Tanzania to challenge articles in the Law of Marriage Act, 1971, which allowed girls to be married off-with their parents' and a court's consent-at just 14 or 15 years of age.

In 2017 the court ruled in our favour, declaring that the marriage law must be revised so that the minimum age for marriage is the same for girls as for boys. This raised the minimum age for girls to 18. It was a victory we are proud of.

My interest in development and human rights advocacy began 16 years ago, while I was still in secondary school, when I and other students were introduced to UN clubs and the Model UN (MUN) assembly. The MUN is a simulation for hundreds of thousands of students around the world who meet to discuss global issues.

I also had the opportunity to meet UN staffer Eshila Maravanyika, who was then in charge of the UN Information Centre in Tanzania. Through Ms. Maravanyika and further visits to UN offices, I learned a lot about the organization.

Then I decided to...

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