Like many societies in Africa, customary laws and practices remain discriminatory against women on issues of property inheritance, particularly on land, as well as institutionalised violence against women e.g. wife battering, rape, female genital mutilation and the existence, side by side, of a multitude of statutory, religious and customary laws that may well be conflicting with each other.
According to the UNICEF Report 2013 on “business and gender based violence” (GBC Health);as a result of Gender Based Violence in Tanzania (GBV), dropping out of school can result in lifetime opportunity costs up to 68% of GDP in the country.
In Tanzania, women’s legal and human rights have been constrained by a lack of legal knowledge and literacy among women. The main reason being, the existing legal system does not reach the majority of women who live in rural areas. Moreover, statutory laws are applied on a discriminatory basis, legislative protective mechanisms such as protection orders, baring orders and safety orders in the legal system are inadequate. Investigations and prosecution of cases involving violence against women and children are often executed in an insensitive manner.
A number of aspects hinder young people from fully participating in the development of their communities.
As most parents give priority to their sons, there is low enrollment of girls in schools as they are believed to be the ones to sustain the family in a more practical manner. Girls are considered a wasted investment as they will be married away to another family.
Girls and young women have limited rights to participate in leadership or decision making and this is manifested in strong traditional taboos among several ethnic groups in the area. Girls are less entitled to expressing themselves in front of males.
Girls lack education opportunities and are positioned second to boys in all respects of life, which has resulted in reported low self-esteem among girls. It is therefore important to address these issues from a youth and a gender perspective in the rural and urban parts of the Lake Victoria basin (Mwanza, Mara etc.), where these problems are highly dominant.
The Mwanza region is, also by means of its location, (the Lake area is a migration zone and known for its prostitution and human trafficking) plagued by HIV/AIDS, girl trafficking and domestic violence.
Years of research showed a high level of gender inequity, which is highly supported by the strong male dominance in the region. Specifically in rural areas, girls hardly have access to education and struggle to protect themselves from rape, other forms of violence and teenage pregnancy. Suppression on a mental and physical level, and social and economic dependence make them vulnerable victims.
Partner Organisation Tanzania Cares
Together with Tanzania Cares, a Mwanza based organisation, Victory for Equality set up its first big awareness project in 2013 and now runs an own office with young people and several volunteers and interns in Mwanza town. The organisation is led by Moses Mongo, a Tanzanian former United Nations employee in Norway. The project is managed on a daily basis by Peter Kambarage, a fomer participant in the gender equality research conducted by Founder Caroline Dusée, Founder of Victory for Equality, in collaboration with VU university Amsterdam.
The outcomes of this research have been used for the basis and fundament of the project and its strategy (read more at How we work).
Victory for Equality is now working in the Mwanza region, within the community and at five schools. In order to provide a better platform, we work together with several organisations such as United Nations Women, United Nations Youth, Kivulini, Mikono Yetu and Mwanza Women Organisation.
The project has hired a project manager who is in charge of developing implementation plan/calendar for the activities as well as conducting lectures, organising functions; and organising activities that involve working together with club leaders, school administrations, non-governmental organisation as well as governmental sectors in the region. Activities are presented in various formats in order to ensure their relevance for different target audiences.
Victory for Equality and Tanzania Cares cooperate internally and externally with international and local organizations that provide us with a number of international and local interns. This source of human resource is used in the project to increase efficiency of the project and ensure a regular reach and follow-ups in schools, as well as reducing costs of employment with regards to carrying out a number of activities in schools.
Each school administration has appointed a matron and patron of the project in each school to strengthen and facilitate the work within clubs as well strengthening the connection between the club and school administration. Also matrons and patrons are used in case of any emergence or to inform and advise the club and school administrations.
The project has started with 5 schools and gradually expand only when found realistic to do so; The five schools will operate under a 5 in 1 formula.
Moreover, overall techniques of ‘multiplier-effect’ are applied where people who are taught then transmit what they learn to others. This means that the messages are spread further and faster. For example: educating a young person/child helps to get information to their friends, teachers, parents and others in the community. This strategy will be discussed among members, patrons/matrons and the project officers. Volunteers and project officers will be trained on how to promote and monitor this technique for this environment.
The Clubs are referred to as ‘Gender Equity Clubs’ carried by the name of the Project Victory for Equality. These two names will mainly be used in all publicity works of the two collaborative organizations.
Victory for Equality consists of a local team of employees and volunteers and local and international interns. They visit the schools and communities on a regular, weekly basis.
They give awareness workshops, set up role plays, invent and stimulate youth equity club forming, organise role model lectures, organise debates and forums and make sure their voice is heard in the media.
Working both in schools and on location, they will reach over a few hundred young people on a regular basis.
The project is expanding every day and the youth is very driven to change its future.