Whether it’s supporting crises-affected girls in her local community to continue their education, or speaking up at national conferences, climate activist and youth leader Jania is determined to advance the rights of girls and young women.
“I envision a world where young people, especially girls are not just learners but active solution thinkers and change makers,” says Jania.
Jania is a passionate teenage youth leader from the Northwest region of Cameroon. Her love for community service has led her to become a climate and gender activist, fervent about advancing the rights of women and young girls.
“Having witnessed firsthand the negative impact of the anglophone crisis on girls in my region where we had to spend full academic years out of school, I knew something had to be done. I equally knew I had to do something. I had just turned 14 when the crisis reached its peak. Lockdown measures were imposed, with schools shutdown. I began teaching internally displaced children and supporting them with school supplies such as books and pens, even though I myself was out of school due to the insecurity,” explains Jania.
The socio-political crisis in the 2 English speaking regions of Cameroon broke out in 2016. English speaking lawyers, students, and teachers took to the streets to protest under-representation and marginalisation by the government. The situation rapidly escalated into a secessionist political conflict triggering high insecurity and forced displacement. This led the state to declare both regions emergency zones in late 2018.
Braving the double challenges of the covid-19 context amidst the crisis, Jania volunteered with several community-based organisations. She began sensitising on girls’ rights and climate action for sustainable development. Due to her active participation in Plan International’s activities and community engagement she was selected over thousands of applicants to moderate the Girls Deliver: Preconference on Adolescent during the Women Deliver 2023 Conference.
“My experience at Women Deliver gave a new dimension to my activism and fueled my engagement for girls’ rights. I seized this platform to advocate for more flexible and sustainable youth-friendly funding opportunities for youth-led organisations. I called on duty bearers to create an enabling environment where youth activists, government, civil society organisations, donors will be able to sit down, talk, and take action on issues regarding the wellbeing of girls and young people. Young girls need to be put at the center of initiatives concerning them.”
Paving the way for other girls
Back to Cameroon, Jania represented the Girls Get Equal Network at the National Youth Forum, August 2023. In line with this year’s International Day of the Girl theme focused on girls’ activism, Jania led an exchange session with duty bearers, women leaders and young girls at the Regional Girls’ Summit in Plan International’s Northwest region office. She also assumed the role of Regional Delegate of Secondary Education during a “Girls Takeover” activity. She sought to explicitly shine light on the urgent need for the education of girls in crises. Through this, many young girls were inspired to involve themselves in leadership activities.
Today, Jania pursues her bachelor’s degree in nursing and midwifery at the university of Bamenda. She hopes to promote good sexual and reproductive health rights for all women and girls. With this purpose in mind, she believes fervently that a healthy world is a wealthy world.