School girls in Tanzania use their voices for a better and equal future

UNESCO, through the established TUSEME (Let us Speak out) – Safe Space Youth Clubs and in close collaboration with the Secondary Education Department in Sengerema district, brought together key women leaders from various sectors within the district to commemorate the International Day of the Girl Child. During the commemoration, speakers jointly and strategically discussed this year’s theme, “My voice, our equal future”, and drew conclusions on how girls must start giving out their voices towards the equal future they aspire to.

Hosted by TUSEME – Safe Space Youth Club in Kilabela Secondary School, the event was attended by a range of successful women leaders in various sectors who inspired young girls through their presentations on each of the three focus areas of this year’s celebration under the theme “My voice, our equal future”.

Presenting on the sub topic “Live free from gender-based violence, harmful practices, and HIV and AIDS“, Dr. Brandina Kahuru from Project Health Centre in Sengerema  urged adolescent girls to abstain from unsafe sexual practices and early marriages while calling on parents to provide equal education opportunity for both boys and girls. She pointed out that in most societies, girls are underprivileged when it comes to education and other social-economic opportunities. She, hence, urged society to stop such social discriminations against a girl child to attain equal opportunity as boys. She went further by providing menstruation cycle education and urged schools to have supportive toilet infrastructures for these girls for them to comfortably attend all class hours and days as boys even when they are menstruating.

As an adolescent girl, you are better placed when you are aware of your biological changes and have knowledge on sexuality, never allow your adolescence to ruin your future

Dr. Brandina Kahuru, Project Health Centre, Sengerema 

Ms Anociatha Missiongo, a Human Resources Officer from Sengerema district, pointed out the need for adolescent girls to learn new skills that would enable them to grab the global opportunities as they prepare for an equal future. She insisted on diversifying education and economic opportunities rather than focusing on traditional formal education and employment. In addition, she insisted the club mentors to strengthen life skills and entrepreneurship education through various small projects so that the skills acquired in schools would enable these girls to strive outside the education system and get them some economic activities to earn them an income.

Furthermore, police representatives from the gender desk office in Sengerema district Ms. Mponela Malongo and Alice Mawila, jointly urged young girls to openly speak out about the challenges they face and actively express their desires for social changes while asserting their goals towards the equal future they aspire to. The presenters used this opportunity to educate girls on the importance of gender desk to a girl child and urged them to see the unit as a supporting hand for them to report out various gender-based violence, including cases of early marriages and sexual harassments as amplified these acts as one of the setbacks to girls education and equal future aspiration.

Through the help of ICT, the girls were further joined by Mrs. Neema Kitundu, National Coordinator FAWE-Tanzania and Prof Fatihiya Massawe from the Sokoine University of Agriculture who both sent their voice note. In addition, Prof. Felister Mombo from Sokoine University gave a direct call to the students and other guests who were present. The female academicians and speakers emphasized the importance of this day especially to a girl child and the need for girls to speak out for a better future. They further motivated young girls to be proactive and focus oriented in academic affairs to achieve their education goals and one day hold high-level positions as they do.

The presentations collectively inspired, empowered and motivated young girls in asserting their voices as a powerful tool and change-maker towards equal future

Organized by Kilabela Secondary School through TUSEME – Safe Space Youth club members and mentors, the event was attended by District Secondary Education Officer Ms. Genoveva Chuchuba as the guest of honor who, among others, was joined by two education officers Ms. Ghati Matiko and Neema Ndekirwa, Statistics and Logistic Officer and Academic Officer respectively. Speaking to the girls, Ms. Chuchuba stressed the importance of education to a girl child and urged girls who are club members to lead by example in both academic and discipline matters for them to inspire other students to join the club. She also urged teachers to adopt the same modality to have their own forum to discuss various issues as teachers.

Through the KOICA Funded UN joint Programme on “Empowering Adolescent Girls and Young Women through Education in Tanzania”, UNESCO established the TUSEME Safe Space Youth Clubs in 60 Primary and Secondary schools in four beneficiary districts of Sengerema, Ngorongoro, Kasulu and Mkoani – Pemba. Among other functions, the club members provide peer sexuality education, guidance and counselling services, entrepreneurial education including junior farming, and sensitization on violence against children at schools.

© UNESCO

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