Agents of Change - Empowering women in rural Tanzania

Imagine the things that our communities could achieve if the women of our society were given the same rights and standing as their male counterparts. 

Half of our population still faces immense challenges and barriers in the most basic of things within their daily lives – whether it’s facing the traditional gender ideologies and having the many household duties, barriers to education and training, early pregnancies and marriages, and the fight against female genital mutilation (FGM) and gender-based violence (GBV). 

Whilst initiatives to empower women and achieve gender equality have been implemented in Tanzania, we still have a long way to go.

Within their capabilities, women hold the power of true change within our communities.

Women in Work

Within a deep-rooted patriarchal system held in some communities, it can be an arduous task simply to challenge this ideology and bring women to the same standing as men. Women who do work are most likely to work in agriculture (making up more than half of the workforce), often on a family farm and unpaid. One barrier that women have faced working in agriculture is the difficulty in getting their own land. In Tanzania, the feminisation of poverty is an immense challenge where more than half the female population live in extreme poverty.

But, of course, there are also so many other professions that women we work with dream of doing. We know that when you empower a woman, you empower a community. Helping women into work is thus one of our priorities. Whether it’s an agricultural project, tailoring project, salon or other, we strategically invest small amounts of money into women’s businesses. This small helping hand, along with the guidance of our local representatives can help transform the lives of women and their families.

Our partner organisation Mboni ya Vijana also knows the value of helping women into work. Their microfinance scheme provides small loans and training to women to help them start their own businesses. This scheme helps to lift the women and their families out of extreme poverty, purchase necessities such as clothing and medicines for the family, and importantly, grow in confidence. 

Originally there was some resistance from some men in the village, concerned that women getting loans would be a threat to their authority. Now the same men ask Benedicto when their wives can get a loan. It has been amazing to see a number of the women working closely with their husbands as partners in the business, whereas previously they worked much more separately. This appears to have had a positive effect on their relationships, which was confirmed by the women themselves. In the training women were told, “Don’t use your loan to exploit your husband, rather money should be a tool for strengthening the love in your family.” They seem to have taken this to heart!

Mboni ya Vijana

Every woman has the right to hold the same standing as their male counterparts. Every woman has the right to follow her dreams. Every woman has the right to work.

How Can You Help?

You can help by supporting our work and Mboni ya Vijana’s work online and donating to help women get into work and build their businesses, which will help increase their household income and lift them out of poverty.

Education & Training

Girls with a dream deserve to become women with potential – with the right support they can. We want girls to dream big and follow them, and we’re determined to support them on their journey from school to work.

Girls are changemakers and we’re supporting them into womanhood.

Girls’ education in rural Tanzania is fraught with difficulties. One difficulty that is faced is the negative perception of sending girls to school.

I know she need to go to school but I am not expecting anything from her because she will get married and I will not benefit anything.

This was said by a parent of a schoolgirl who reported that she was being pressured by her parents to leave school and simply get married as they could not afford to purchase things for school. Hardships and poverty should not be a barrier for and access to education for girls – but it is currently a challenge we are facing. Our work to fund schools and education, such as our chicken project, can help to prevent early marriages, keep girls in school and get their education.

Female genital mutilation (FGM) and the long dangerous walk to school is another barrier to education. We fund several hostels and work closely with our Mara representative Rhobi Samwelly and her project Hope for Girls and Women which now runs two safe houses in the north of Tanzania. Such hostels can keep girls safe and in school.

However, education doesn’t just finish at school – whether it’s carrying on your further education or training vocationally, we continue to learn throughout our lives. Through some of our projects, at the safe houses of Hope for Girls and Women, at the learning centres of Tumaini, and through training youth and women in Kigoma at Mboni ya Vijana, we work hard to ensure that girls and women have the knowledge and skills they need to achieve what they want in their lives.

How Can You Help

You can help our work by following and supporting both us all online. There are always more hostels, schools, training initiatives to fund. Every bit of support can help us educate and train girls and women. 

If you have a computer, internet connection and a bit of spare time, you can also help by joining our worldwide team of volunteers at Crowd2Map. This amazing project brings people from all over the world to map rural Tanzania, helping to end FGM and gender-based violence (GBV), as well as providing maps to schools and hospitals.

You can also help by donating to our education campaigns via the link below.

Access to Water

Women and water are inseparable. Whilst access to clean and safe water is a fundamental human right and vital for good health, it is also an important aspect in empowering women and girls in rural Tanzania. 

 

It is generally the responsibility of women and girls to collect the water for the household – even if that means a five mile walk a day. This walk takes women out of work and girls out of school. So, whilst their male counterparts are earning a solid income and studying hard in school, women and girls are on their feet walking for hours, and carrying a heavy bucket of water back.

Getting access to clean and safe water for every community is one of our main priorities. We work hard with Mboni ya Vijana to install water pumps into schools and communities. So far, Mboni ya Vijana have decreased walking time to collect water by 90%, with this time now being spent studying for the girls and earning and income for the women!

How You Can Help

You can help by following Mboni Ya Vijana’s as well as our social media channels and support our work online! With every water pump we can install, we can empower a community of women and girls!

You can also help by donating via the link below.

Women are Agents of Change

There is still a way to go for any of us to achieve gender equality. Women deserve the same standing as their male counterparts in every aspect of life – they deserve to learn, to work, to earn an income, deserve autonomy over their own bodies… Within their empowerment, women hold the power of true change in our societies. They are truly agents of change, and we will continue to commit to empowering the amazing women of rural Tanzania.

Break the Bias