Paving the way for change - Monita's story
As a local Youth Ambassador, 21-year-old Monita is working to change deep-rooted attitudes that hold back women and girls. With support from the EYW project, this ambitious young woman is also an entrepreneur – and is showing her community that a woman’s role is not just in the home.
Monita is the only member of her family to go to university, a rarity in her village of Tanete in Maros, South Sulawesi. Her two older sisters married straight after finishing school. “In my village, many girls are married young, even when they want to go to school,” she explains. “I want to change that.” Monita is studying for a degree in Biology and heads her village youth organization.
In 2019, Monita took part in EYW entrepreneurship training. This gave her the skills and confidence to start her own business – something she had long dreamed of. Using savings from part-time jobs, Monita bought 1,000 catfish spawn, tarpaulin, ropes and other equipment, and her father helped her build a fish farm next to their house. “Now the catfish are big, and soon we will have a harvest,” she says happily, anticipating her first profits.
Monita was thrilled to be appointed as a EYW Youth Ambassador, as this gives her more opportunities to campaign against early marriage. In 2020, she was chosen to speak on the issue at an International Women’s Day celebration in the country’s capital. “When people found out that I had been invited to speak in Jakarta, then the parents told their children to look at what I do,” she laughs.
Speaking out and changing attitudes
Monita is determined to show other young women that there is an alternative to early marriage. Some people have tried to undermine her efforts. “In the village, there are many Islamic interpretations that say men are the leaders of women, and say women should be at home,” she explains. Yet, Monita has begun to see a change in people’s views. In fact, she was recently elected as a member of the Tanete Village Advisory Board, which means she can make her voice heard at the government level and contribute to decisions on village matters.
Monita now dreams of expanding her fishery business to create more jobs for youth. She has the following advice for other would-be entrepreneurs. “Don’t wait for everything to be just right before starting. Just start – you can keep making improvements during the process.”
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