Girls Empowerment for Professional Development

December 12, 2023 by CIRIS

The Misungwi district in Mwanza has a population of 467,867 were by 230,663 are males and 237,204 females. Out of this population 401, 675 people live in rural area. People over half of whom are under 18 years of age. (Tanzania Bureau of Statistics- Census of 2022).

In Tanzania, women and girls disproportionately face some significant social, economic and political challenges. Almost half of all women in Mwanza region near Lake Victoria, mostly girls have experienced different kind of violence especially sexual violence. Boys are usually given first priority in educational issues, social and economic opportunities, while girls are deprived all essential chances due to negative perspectives from the society towards girls. Girls are regarded as servants of Men and families, and so they are given much activities which give them no time to participate in studying to pursue their life dreams. Men are usually the head of the household, and gender-based violence (GBV) is commonly used to assert control over resources, often to the detriment of women and children. Women have no control over decision-making and planning their family.

 Teenage pregnancies are very high risk and frequently require specialized obstetric care, which is rarely in rural villages in Misungwi district.

Problem Facing Girls in Misungwi:

1: Discrimination:

Traditionally here in Misungwi, Girls aren't get equal opportunity or dignity as boys, women aren't get equal opportunity or dignity as men. There is a big difference between genders.

AVOTA aspires to find a Solution as a bridge to join this gape through by taking empowerment measures for girls and women.

The solution to ponder is Education support. Education is the key for almost all problems facing the community in general.

2: Gender Based Violence:

Girls are brutally forced to marry men without their consent. Others are raped and end to get unplanned pregnancies and other sexual transmitted diseases.

Efforts which have been taken by AVOTA to tackle the challenges:

The services that AVOTA provides include education, counselling. The Organization provides education on different issues to the beneficiaries on Human Rights, Democracy and entrepreneurship skills. All these measures are taken for small group of people due to limited of financial limitations. We envision to reach more people to implement programs to increase welfare standards within the local communities, where women and girls can most easily access the advice and support.

AVOTA stands as a local organization that challenges social norms that accept child marriage and teenage pregnancies, raising awareness of alternative life paths. AVOTA now runs “girl power” clubs in Misungwi attended by more than 2000 teenage primary and secondary school girls. The clubs meet on Friday evening every week to discuss about their challenges where the support each other ideally, learn about sexual and reproductive health, and discuss how to be economically independent while continue with the school.

Gender based violence affects women of all ages in Tanzania. AVOTA organization is looking for support to prevent gender based violence in Misungwi. Our Organization is a place of safety where girls can meet to discuss and seek solutions to their problems.

Causes of Gender Inequality

1. Uneven access to education

For years women in Tanzania still have less access to education than men. ¼ of young women between 13-24 will not finish primary or secondary school. That group makes up 58% of the people not completing that basic education. Of all the illiterate people in the world, ⅔ are women. When girls are not educated on the same level as boys, it has a huge effect on their future and the kinds of opportunities they’ll get.

2: Lack of employment equality

Studies show that if employment became a more even playing field, it has a positive domino effect on other areas prone to gender inequality. Industries and many other institutions still prioritize employment for men than women, eg. in industrial sectors such mining and fisheries.

3: Job segregation

One of the causes for gender inequality in employment sector. In most societies, there’s an inherent belief that men are simply better equipped to handle certain jobs. Most of the time, those are the jobs that pay the best. This discrimination results in lower income for women. Women also take on the primary responsibility for unpaid labor, as even as they participate in the paid workforce, they have extra work that never gets recognized financially.

4: Lack of legal protections

According to research from the World Bank, over one billion women don’t have legal protection against domestic sexual violence or domestic economic violence. Both have a significant impact on women’s ability to thrive and live in freedom. In Tanzania, there’s also a lack of legal protections against harassment in the workplace, at school, and in public. These places become unsafe and without protection, girls and women frequently have to make decisions that compromise and limit their goals.

5: Lack of bodily autonomy

Many women in Tanzania do not have authority over their own bodies or when they become parents. Accessing birth control especially in Misungwi is very difficult. According to the World Health Organization, over 200 million women who don’t want to get pregnant are not using contraception methods. There are various reasons, such as a lack of options, limited access, and cultural/religious opposition. On a global scale, about 40% of pregnancies are not planned and while 50% of them do end in abortion, 38% result in births. These mothers often become financially dependent on another person or the state, losing their freedom.

7: Lack of political representation

In Tanzania women participation in decision making bodies is low or poor. From local government to Central government there is only about 25% of seats occupied by women. At least currently the Heads of State is a women who was the Vice President and emerged succeeded the Male President who unfortunately died while on power! Despite this, women are still grossly underrepresented in government and the political process. This means that certain issues that female politicians tend to bring up – such as parental leave and childcare, pensions, gender equality laws and gender-based violence – are often neglected.

8: Societal mindsets

Many years ago, cultural and traditional beliefs of many Tanzanians especially in rural communities like Misungwi as affect mindset of on gender equality. How society determines the differences and value of men vs. women plays a starring role in every arena, whether it’s political elections, education, business, employment or the legal system or healthcare. Local beliefs about women consider them as weak or powerless people who have a limited ability comparing to men!  It’s common for many societies in Tanzania to ignore gender equality in almost all opportunities such as better representation for women in leadership. These types of mindsets prop up gender inequality and delay significant change.

SOLUTION ACTIVITIES TO ERADICATION OF THESE CHALLENGES:

AVOTA requests support from other institutions and organizations to implement the following objectives as the way to empower the Girls in Misungwi Tanzania for their development in pursuing their academic journey and professional development:

1: Provision of Mentorship programs:

 AVOTA aspires to holds community dialogues, bringing together local leaders, teachers, police, social workers and the whole community to address gender-based violence. Results so far are promising; local police have seen an increase in the number of GBV cases reported, and community leaders report a reduction in the acceptance of violence in village communities. AVOTA also plan to offer free legal consultation to GBV survivors, exploring their rights and any opportunities for redress.

Women’s empowerment and gender equality are at the heart of AVOTA's strategy for Mwanza region and entire Tanzania Country. Our commitment to a fairer and more just world includes delivery of improved educational opportunities for girls and more targeted community level initiatives aimed at protecting women and girls from GBV and extremely poverty:

2: Training centers for Foreign Languages.

This will help girls and young women to gain proficiency in English Language. The program aims to facilitate students with strong verbal communication skills in both written and spoken English in order to meet universal Educational requirements.

3: Professional Development Courses:

Girls will learn through in-person and virtual classes to enable them gain essential knowledge which will help them build their careers in international relations and international security, etc. We also suggest that, there may be  Cultural Exchange Programs in which at least few girl students from Tanzania will be able to get opportunity of short term studies in the US or elsewhere outside Africa and in a vice-versa situation, AVOTA will receive Students from outside Africa respectively. This will enhance them with the wide range to pursue their carrier in the field of international relations and international security.

3: Sport and Arts Approach:

AVOTA is planning to reach all Tanzanians, Africa and the Global on Gender Equality, Democracy, Human Rights, Good International Relations and many other current challenges facing the entire World.

Through Songs, Girls are going to use Traditional African Melody and Arts to address insist on Gender Equality and Democracy, to call the world for conflict resolution and peace maintenance.

Through Sports, AVOTA will be able to teach the community on Human rights, Democracy and Equality, etc. to all the people who will come to watch the games.

4: Radio programs and TV shows:

We will use radio and TV programs as a platform to reach the communities and address the challenges facing girls as well as solution measures to be taken to end these challenges. The Clubs will be supported through a weekly radio show which will feature topical issues for teenagers, rejects gender based violence, and promotes sexual and reproductive health and girl entrepreneurship.

5: Material support:

Most of girls are in very poor condition financially. We plan to train them with some income generating skills and entrepreneurship, and money production and serving. This strategy is planned for them so that they can be able to buy some basic needs themselves such as (hygiene pads for menstruation periods, books, pens, etc.) without depending on their partners or parents who are also poor.

Through this AVOTA have done a lot voluntarily to mitigate these challenges facing girls and women by using our limited resources. We are looking forward for support from other stakeholder institutions to help us to implement the objectives of this article.

For more information and on how to support this organization go to: avota.org

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