How to tackle violence? Start by talking to girls.

Putting girls first against violence means listening to their views. We asked Sarah Dahimbaze, a girl journalist for Ni Nyampinga in Rwanda, for her perspective

When the World Health Organisation (WHO) released its report on gender-based violence last month, we pointed out the importance of putting girls first.

That means listening to girls, so we asked Sarah Dahimbaze (pictured), a girl journalist for Ni Nyampinga in Rwanda, for her view on what needs to be done to prevent violence against girls…

"Girls and women are on the front line in the battle against violence - but for me, it was unusual to see girls and women speaking out publicly about the issue when I attended the Commission for the Status of Women (CSW) in New York earlier this year.  

I was impressed to see girls speaking out. It was a lesson to me that every girl or woman can be an advocate for change.

I was particularly inspired by one lady who shared how violence has affected her community. She was a victim of violence, but it was inspiring that she was not shy about telling us what had happened to her and about the initiative she had set up in the community to stop the same thing happening to others.

Since the conference I've thought about what needs to change, and it's that girls and women need more encouragement to speak out.

I've realised that, as radio journalists, my colleagues and I on Ni Nyampinga radio show are in a position of responsibility, because many young girls listen to our shows.

We can make sure we address the topic of violence against girls and women and inform our listeners of where to report any incidences and who to talk to.

The aim is for everyone - girls, women, and men - to be aware of their rights, and the radio is an ideal way to get the word out.

I'd like to see world leaders raising awareness of the problem too. There has been some good progress in the position of girls and women in society, but they need to put more resources into teaching people how to prevent violence - particularly in rural areas, where some people are still not aware of what is going on.

Every girl should have access to a safe space where she can talk freely. Schools should be instilling self-confidence in girls and showing them why it's important to stand up for themselves.

Parents may need help and advice on how to talk to their daughters too. After all, they're the ones who girls may turn to in a crisis and they need to encourage them to speak out.

It's encouraging that there are now laws to protect girls and women against violence. There may sometimes be problems in the implementation of those laws, but things are going in the right direction."

The Ni Nyampinga radio show airs weekly across Rwanda, giving girls a platform to discuss the issues they care about the most. The voices of girls and journalists such as Sarah will be the first step to zero tolerance to violence in Rwanda.

Read more about Ni Nyampinga