Interview with Carla Mussa: UNICEF Mozambique Child Protection Specialist
Carla Cangela de Mendonca Mussa is a child protection Specialist with UNICEF Mozambique, prior to UNICEF, she was a member of Human Rights Organization of Mozambique, her work included providing legal aid to vulnerable groups including women’s and children’s. Carla has recently been elected as the UNICEF staff association deputy president.
Carla Mussa Background: I am a Second born in a family of 6 children, I lost my father at the age of 16 years, my mother was both our mother and father! she is an example of an empowered woman that I am trying to emulate/honor. I’m a mother of a lovely eight years old boy to whom my husband and I are trying to raise with a sense of gratitude, humility and purpose. In my opinion to be a woman is to be a household manager, family, community and being the best of the managers, all these competing priorities sometimes puts a lot pressure on us, but we find a way to navigate.
Q: Reflecting on this day, how has the women movement come along?
A: Looking at the history of my Country, women were side by side with men during the struggle for independence, they were given the space to contribute and these are examples of women that inspired a new generation. Post-independence we are keeping the search for our space, we do have role models such as Graça Machel, Luisa Diogo (former prime minister) who continue to inspire many young girls. We do also have anonymous heroes, those that are in the front-line fighting for economic empowerment, fighting for their own children and taking care of orphans in their communities, the grass root activists who may not be known internationally but touch lives and bring up generations. I also pay tribute to those who use their vocal ability, through songs, theatres, dancing, poetry, demonstrating the gender issues and promoting equal rights.
While the women movement made some positive strides, there is still room for improvement and this struggle needs to reflect on the lives of the women and girls both in urban and rural
Q: As a lawyer, what is your reflection of the legal reforms that protect women and girls
A: Even though we have a progressive legal framework, we still need to strengthen the law enforcement mechanisms to fill the gaps, improve the knowledge of the population of their rights, put justice closer to the citizens by breaking bureaucratic, physical and economic barriers to access justice as well as the breaking the culture of silence within the family settings. There are some laws that need to be improved and aligned with international instruments; adopt a holistic approach to protect women and girls which also look at the underlying causes. There is, of course, an effort around governance, access to justice and human rights but because the strategies and policies and legal framework need to be accompanied by an increment in the budget, but the poorly financed infrastructure and apparatus has caused some delays in the implementation of the legal and policy frameworks.
I pay my tribute to all those girls of my country and worldwide that despite facing obstacles are really champions of resilience, fight, faith and face the challenges in this world in transformation.
We also need to invest more in human resource starting to make available universal and compulsory free education up to secondary school. Human capital is huge in our country, we do need to build upon demographic dividend; We do have a range of young people that need to be exposed to skills development, training opportunities, employment entrepreneurship and make their creativity and dreams fly out.
The increase of fiscal space for social sector will enable the country to break the cycle of inter-generational poverty as improvement in service delivery will mean that children would have more chances to survive and thrive, more chance to reach the second decade, protected and healthy, educated and empowered and ultimately getting more opportunities in life and cut the cycle of poverty.
Q: Any message for women and Girls?
A: Yes, all of us have a lesson to give. What a beautiful legacy we leave to the world! I pay my tribute to all those girls of my country and worldwide that despite facing obstacles are really champions of resilience, fight, faith and face the challenges in this world in transformation. I look forward to the day when each woman in this country reaches a level where she can make informed choices, where she can freely express opinions and become a role model for her children and they can pass wisdom from one generation to another. When we get to this stage where, entities like UNICEF will only serve as an advisory body for the states and no more as an agency with so much extended humanitarian/development response to provide, where the right to development will be a reality.
I’m because we are!
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