Empowering girls by amplifying their voices for better and equal future

This year the International Day of the Girl Child advocates for amplifying the girls voices and how young girls can stand up for their rights. Under the theme, “My voice, our equal future”, the emphasis is on seizing the opportunity to reimagine a better world inspired by adolescent girls – energized and recognized, counted and invested in.

UNESCO in partnership with UN Women and UNFPA is currently implementing a project on “Empowering Adolescent Girls and Young Women through Education in Tanzania”. The government of the Republic of South Korea through Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) funds the project, which operates in the districts of Kasulu in Kigoma, Sengerema in Mwanza, Ngorongoro in Arusha and Mkoani Pemba in Zanzibar.

The project applies a multi-sectoral approach for an enhanced effort to ensure that girls and women attain their educational aspirations and become productive and fulfilled citizens at family, community and national levels. In so doing, there are a number of programmes for both in and out-of-school beneficiaries to ensure that girls have access to education and a better future.

One of the key aspects for the in-school programme is the creation of the Safe Space – TUSEME youth clubs. Through the clubs in the project schools, girls are sensitised and informed on gender issues (gender relations, roles, equity and equality), guidance and counselling services, sexual reproductive health education, sanitation and menstrual hygiene and violence against children. This provides a safe platform for young girls to voice their concerns on the matters, address the challenges and find viable solutions to them.

Since the inception of the TUSEME Clubs, reports in the target schools indicate a decrease in truancy, dropout and teenage pregnancy amongst female students. Some of the adopted practices in the school activities are such as teachers and students observing how human rights can be realized and practiced. In addition, applying gender-responsive pedagogy to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) classes has resulted to an increase in the number of female students undertaking STEM subjects.

Furthermore, for the out-of-school beneficiaries, the programme seeks to empower the girls and young women academically, financially and socially towards a better future.

Fatma Khamis, together with other out-of-school beneficiaries in Mkoani, received literacy, numeracy and entrepreneurship trainings that has enabled her to plan, budget and monitor her own small retail business. The ICT literacy and numeracy programme has enabled leaners to combine technology and hands on games to learn on how to read, write, count and perform minor calculations.

Asimida Wednesday, a member of Tuinuane Youth Girls group and a beneficiary of the programme in Kasulu states that through the VICOBA, she took a loan of TZS 10,000 in February 2020. She used the loan to purchase two male rabbits and three female rabbits. The rabbits have since multiplied and grown to more than 20, which she sells each between TZS 5,000 to 8,000. Moreover, she also commenced gardening from the profit she made.

The girls groups for the out of school programme have benefited from the support structure of community members and leaders in which they offer their mentorship support. Thus, in celebrating the day, UNESCO calls for the support of the local and international community to support girls’ access to quality education and a dignified life free from gender-based violence, harmful practices, and HIV/AIDS.