International Women’s Day 2020

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“I truly believe that men’s participation to achieve equity is paramount.”  Yasser Omar, Mozambique, Master of International Development Practice, Monash University

Australia Awards-Africa alumnus, Yasser Omar’s role models were always strong women – his mother and grandmother who were the pillars of his family. Their example guided his belief that empowering women, especially young women, contributes to all society.

Yasser Omar, from Mozambique completed his Master of International Development Practice at Monash University at the end of 2019. Yasser shared his thoughts on his scholarship journey and his interest in gender equality with On-Award Manager Anthea Edmunds.

‘’Gender equality is considered a driver to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) 2030 Agenda. I believe that as a male and gender and youth development specialist, I stand for gender empowerment, and want to understand the root causes and break the stereotypes. One such stereotype is that gender equity is only about empowering women and fighting patriarchal norms. I truly believe that men’s participation to achieve equity is paramount.

My interest in gender studies arose because it was clear to me that girls and women lacked access to equal opportunities, particularly in Mozambique. I worked at the Ministry of Youth and Sports in Mozambique for nearly eight years in order to contribute to the design and implementation of youth policy.

My focus is the empowerment of young women in rural areas between 12 and 18 years old. My aim is to create my own project or NGO named ‘Talking Gender’. This platform will connect different stakeholders to share knowledge and experiences of gender related issues, and enhance the participation of men, women, boys and girls. It will also create value for gender projects, provide mentorships and technical assistance. We will use all communications mediums to target urban and rural communities through storytelling to share experiences, challenges, opportunities and motivate girls and boys.

I have a daughter now and I want her to be free to choose and do whatever she wants to.

My Australia Awards experience was very positive and insightful, and I am delighted with my achievements and what I have learned. Examples of my newly acquired skills are critical thinking, evidence-based decision making and knowledge and my ability to think and plan strategically. Because I am passionate about gender and development, it was crucial to understand gender analysis tools, gender frameworks and improved my research skills.

When I started my academic journey in Australia, I wanted to expand my knowledge in areas that could be impactful for my community and gender was always at the forefront. I also had opportunity to learn more about gender sensitive policies in education, labour market, productive and reproductive rights, women’s rights and human rights. It was rewarding to share experiences and have discussions with my fellow students about Mozambique and be exposed to different contexts from all over the world.

I am very proud to be part of Australia Awards-Africa alumni community. My participation in Monash University projects have increased my interest in gender and development studies. I had a chance to present my projects and engaged in group work. This helped me to develop other important skills such as active listening, and to be tolerant to different ideas and views. Being in a diverse and multicultural environment has contributed enormously in my understanding and appreciation of gender diversity in societies.

I am currently working as a researcher in gender and youth at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), an organisation partner of Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). We aim to reduce rural poverty, increasing food security, improving human health and nutrition, where women farmers play an important role.

I would say that I really appreciated my Australia Awards-Africa Scholarship as this experience was a complete life-changing opportunity. I want to give back to my community in the same way that Australia Awards-Africa opened the door to the world for me.’’

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