The Voice of Women in Tanzania.

rosemary_ntoipo
Posted August 18, 2015 from Tanzania

At the beginning of this year I read a report about The United Republic of Tanzania’s laws. The report was quite detailed, it explained a lot. I understood what it meant and wondered how many women especially at the grass root were aware of these laws and what they meant to them.

Most women at the grass root in my community are illiterate. Our community has maintained the beauty of its traditions/ culture for so long but not without retaining some unfavorable culture. Women were once girls with many problems. Issues of forced marriages still exist contributing to lack of education among women especially, among our indigenous Maasai community. Harmful Traditional Practices (HTPs) have attributed negatively to many difficult circumstances on women and girls. Early /forced marriages, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), health issues, early /unwanted pregnancies, violence and low-self- esteem are problems facing women in my community. Access and control of family resources is another issue that needs to be dealt with.

When I thought about it, this reminded me that our traditions / culture started a long time before formal education was introduced in Africa. This therefore meant education had to get itself somehow in, to replace part of the tradition/ culture which already had its roots dip in the ground for so long and had fruits (whether termed good/ bad). It therefore meant that the traditional practices had to accommodate the formal education and marry at some point. What did not happen? Why, have we continued to have many girls not attending school even in the 21st Century? Yes, we have systems in place; national, International goals, and International conventions on child rights. What then is the solution to all these many issues? Always remember; The entry point to any problem solving is very important. If you have a poor entry point into any problem or initiative the results will be poor and very slow to achieve good results. Education is very important. It is one solution to poverty eradication and a key to sustainable development. While this is true, capacity building was never done to help people go through the process of realizing the need and importance of education in many African communities especially among the indigenous and marginalized communities. Many of the people who joined school those years among the Maasai people explained to me how their parents were forced to take them to school. This was without explaining the importance of it. Meaning the entry point to education among them was poor.

I saw how much women and girls in my community were suffering silently. One would mistake their silence for not being concerned but behind all that they suffered from low-self- esteem. Talking about their problems boldly is not common among them. They needed someone or people who could relate to them and share their problems and help them find solutions. I mobilized women in my community and sensitized them on the importance of self identification, self appreciation and education for them and their children.

As a professional teacher I always knew the problems girls were facing. I taught both boys and girls but girls had more and peculiar problems. They were very vulnerable and many times had no way of getting themselves out of their various difficult situations. Others had similar problems while for some were different. I decided to help them. I created a friendly environment for them to speak out to me so as to release and free themselves from so much pain and emotions that they had. They needed guidance and sometimes counseling. This was difficult to do for each one of them at the same time so I established the first girls club at the school. From then, I thought of helping more girls not only in my school but also in other neighboring schools and communities. This was quite a success. Some schools realized how much my work was helping. They invited me to their schools to talk to girls and it worked out.

This bore and developed the idea of my founding Girls’ Empowerment Program and Network (GEPaN)- Tanzania. It was a way of giving back to my people, my community and in respect and honor for important people who played a tremendous role in my life and education for me and my family. Its hard to pay back to them in any other way apart from doing this for girls and women in my community, Africa and now the whole world (Thanks to world pulse). The greatest challenge GEPaN is facing is funding for its projects. This has led the founder to use limited personal/ family finances and other resources to implement its projects.

Again always remember; Empowerment is a process that requires proper planning, the involvement of all our stake holders and patience to make it a success. There is an African saying that says “Umoja ni nguvu, utengano ni udhaifu” meaning “Unity is strength, division is weakness”.

Comments 7

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Olanike
Aug 22, 2015
Aug 22, 2015

Dear Rosemary,

Thank you so much for sharing such a revealing and highly inspiring post. It is truly worrisome that many women and girls are yet to be reached with educational intervention efforts; in this age and time. The story appears to be the same in most pasts of the world.

The efforts you are making, particularly in the area of creating awareness and also driving an intiative for change through GEPaN, goes a long way. I quite understand the challenge you are facing in terms of funding, and salute your determination to forge ahead. Please be assured that some day (soon I trust), that challenge will become a thing of the past.

Women and girls' in Tanzania are so blessed to have a passionate leader like you. Well done!

Blessings and warm regards,

Olanike

rosemary_ntoipo
Aug 22, 2015
Aug 22, 2015

Dear Olanike,

Thank you so much for your great encouragement. Its true, things happening in our commuties around the world are qiute the same. All what we need is to find lasting solutions to the same. I believe so too, like you mentioned the challenge will be a thing in the past.

God bless you and warm regards too,

Rosemary.

Olanike
Aug 22, 2015
Aug 22, 2015

Hello Rosemary,

Thank you for the private message you sent to me. I can never thank you enough for refereing me to such an invaluable resource hub. I will keep you updated! keep up your impressive work.

Olanike

rosemary_ntoipo
Aug 29, 2015
Aug 29, 2015

Hello Olanike,

You are welcome!  It's my pleasure to help where I can. Am greatful that you appreciated the resource hub that I sent you. Please also try www.burnstove.com for more reference. Try out this one, see whether it will also be of help. Let me know whether this works out.

Regards,

Rosemary.

rosemary_ntoipo
Sep 02, 2015
Sep 02, 2015

Hello Olanike,

I thought of following up with you to ask whether you saw the other link I forwarded to you and whether it did help.

Warm regards,

Rosemary

Tamarack Verrall
Sep 11, 2015
Sep 11, 2015

Hello Rosemary,

It is wonderful to read about all that is happening in your area, and because of your excellent work. Many women around the world are becoming aware of what needs to be changed, but being able to describe the details of successful work such as yours creates a hopefulness and strong network, as we can carry stories of success, and shared wisdom. 

Your advice "The entry point to any problem solving is very important. If you have a poor entry point into any problem or initiative the results will be poor and very slow to achieve good results" is very wise, and applicable to all we are trying to accomplish. I will remember your words. Thank you for all you are doing, and for sharing both the ongoing challenges, and the good news and advice.

In sisterhood,

Tam

rosemary_ntoipo
Sep 12, 2015
Sep 12, 2015

Hello Tam,

Thank you so much. I must say its very encouraging, as you mentioned that women around the world are becoming aware of what needs to be done.

Together we can carry our stories of success and shared wisdom. We can also create  better entry points for the purpose of success in our communities and the whole world. Again, thanks alot Tam, lets keep working together . It was very good connecting with you.

Warm regards,

Rosemary.