TANZANIA Gender Networking Programme (TGNP) has been running workshops and seminars in some rural areas of the country to raise awareness on gender related issues so as to promote gender equality.
TGNP Executive Director Ms Lilian Liundi says that the famous storytelling hubs, famously known in kiswahili as ‘vilinge’ have methodologies that facilitate dialogue and discussion such as group work, case studies, buzz groups, brainstorming and watching of videos.
The primary aim is to make sure that lives of women and other vulnerable groups in society improve and violence against them is strongly fought against.
Some of the regions which have benefitted from these storytelling hubs are Kilimanjaro, Mbeya and Coast regions, where women leaders have lauded such meetings, which have opened new successful historical pages in their lives.
Hadija Said Mwanahomboza from Masaki area in Coast region admits that ‘vilinge’ meetings have helped her be aware of the Gender based violence (GBV) in her area.
This middle-aged lady is now capable of explaining different forms of GBV, Human Rights in the context of GBV, and she can also prepare a plan of action on how to control GBV among women and other vulnerable groups in her area.
“I have learned different forms of gender-based violence at home, in the workplace and in the community issues of gender and human rights, plans of action and transformation."
During a tele-conference held at TGNP headquarters in Mabibo, Dar es Salaam recently, Deogratias Temba, a gender trainer said that TGNP usually runs storytelling hubs to give women an opportunity to tell stories about their achievements and development challenges that exist in their residential areas.
“We are more interested in capacity building, to make sure that women we train get the capacity to address gender and development challenges they face in their day to day lives. We also teach them how to improve their lives by joining credit facilities in their villages” says Temba.
Devota Likokola who took part in tele-interviews with women who have benefitted from TGNP ‘vilinge’ strongly says that when women are well trained, they can generate good income, not only for themselves, but for the society as a whole.
Today, the word ‘Vikoba’ is known in every corner of the country and women’s and youth groups have joined them in their localities, as an opportunity to raise capital in the form of loans, so that the actors can increase their income.
But, who is the founder of vikoba? It is Devota Likokola, a prominent politician who has also served as a Member of Parliament for ten years.
Devota who used the teleconference to advise women on how to change their lives for the better, argues that many women face significant challenges because they have not been equipped with the right knowledge to work hard in improving their socio-economic lives.
She narrated her personal history, that she worked with NBC bank and quit in 1989, and she decided to open a private restaurant as her investment, before moving further into the political arena.
“When I quit my job I opened a restaurant, however I got into politics and became a Songea councillor and later got into parliament,” she says. Devota adds that during that period, she decided to set up sustainable credit facility aimed at liberating women progressively.
Today she is proud that the programme helped many women to supplement their income, which has been of a great help in meeting the needs of their children such as sending them to good schools, and also building for themselves good houses.
Devota decided to establish a system of sustainable credit facilities, with the intention of uplifting women economically. She told women in that conference that since Vikoba were established, they have helped many people to solve their economic problems.
“The government is committed to supporting sustainable funds, the goal is to manage small groups of members who are trained. The government has also been encouraging people to come to various councils to join such groups, so that the targeted members can benefit” She says.
Juliet Mkonyi who is Kibosho Central Village Executive Officer says she has benefitted from TGNP vilinge, and now she has been able to erect dormitories in some ward schools, as well as improve service delivery at some dispensaries located in her area.
“After hearing what Mama Devota Likokola said about improving women’s lives, I can now set plans on how to give credit facilities to women to enable them run small-scale business inside on outside our village” she says.
Paulina Shirima who works at Okaoni village echoes what her colleague Mkonyi says, adding that she has struggled to help women begin horticulture farming at Umbwe Okaoni, where they have managed to produce different types of vegetables including, salad, tomato and cabbage.
She points out challenges she faced as lack of reliable transport to visit women in their homes to evaluate their works. The few women she managed to visit found them very successful.
Mwanaisha Waziri who resides in Coast region is another woman who has benefitted from TGNP Storytelling hub, who strongly says that in her village there was no secondary school but they have managed to erect one, and so far they have managed to build three classrooms, teachers’ office, and a pit latrine.
“We have strong parents’ committees which meet often to make sure that people contribute money to facilitate the construction of this school. The TGNP trainings have helped women leaders to know their roles in society, and now have the confidence to speak without fear” says Mwanaisha.
Sharifa Issa Salum from Kibuta Ward in Kisarawe District proudly says that in conjunction with men in her area, women have been able to dig a water well which has solved water problem in that village and more children have started going to school, thanks to TGNP trainings which have sensitised women about their roles in society.
TGNP is aware that without women inclusivity on economic activities nothing sustainable in terms of achieving development can be realised. TGNP runs workshops countrywide to empower women in their established knowledge centres to enable them as a group become self-sustainable and each individual member in these centres to be economically empowered.
Among many initiatives is the implementation of Women Economic Empowerment Projects (WEE) which focused on facilitating grassroots community to establish and operate effective and efficient Knowledge centres that support members to start and operate income generating activities in rural communities like Kisarawe, Moshi Rural and Morogoro Districts.
Empowering women with entrepreneur knowledge and skills enlightens them to know how to address the challenges faced in their day to day economic activities. TGNP works with stakeholders that champion women’s rights to end all forms of discrimination against women and other marginalised groups, whether due to class, sex, age and disability.
Women empowerment must start from the grassroots, where majority of them have no socio-economic and political voice.
Any stakeholder, be it a feminist organisation striving to contribute to building a vibrant transformative feminist movement to promote gender equality and equity, women’s empowerment and social justice is TGNP’s partner in business.
If women are empowered economically, chances are great that their children will go to school, get better health and be properly clothed and above all the whole family will be stable and assured of a square meal every day.