Grumeti Fund has donated more than 1,200 relief re-usable sanitary pads to schoolgirls in the Serengeti and Bunda districts in Mara region, as part of their girls’ empowerment event that takes place every year.
During the event, 1,200 girls came together to discuss challenges hindering girls’ access to education and gain tools to face and overcome them.
Different women from different professions came together to impart knowledge on menstrual hygiene, reproductive health, harmful traditional practices and the importance of women empowering and supporting each other.
Other discussions revolved around how the girls can succeed in their education and career development.
Frida Mollel, Grumeti Funds’ Community Development Manager said, “We have been organizing these girl empowerment sessions since 2017.
We have reached over 6,000 schoolgirls and donated over 5,000 re-usable sanitary pads. This year’s empowerment session coincided with World Menstruation Day which occurs on May 28th every year.
We need not shy away from speaking about menstruation because the entire world understands this phenomenon.
This is the right time for even fathers and brothers to get in-volved. Talk to your girls about their menstruation and offer them help when necessary.”
The guest speaker, Susan Mashibe, a pilot and entrepreneur who owns an aircraft maintenance company in Tanzania, implored the girls to build their self-confidence, be trustworthy students and excel in their studies.
She stated to the girls during the sessions, “keep going, your dreams will be fulfilled. You are all capable of being who you want to be.” Mashibe said, saying that her dream of becoming a pilot started when she was only four years old.
Throughout her adult life, she faced many different challenges but they never stopped her from reaching her dream. "My dream of becoming a pilot was a long journey, but I made it.
I was able to become an aircraft engineer, making me the first woman in Tanzania to be a pilot and aircraft engineer.” Mashibe said.
Mashibe also appealed to parents and teachers to ensure they give equal education opportunity to both boys and girls.
She added that it was time communities in Mara region abandoned outdated traditions, including FGM and child marriages, adding that these kill the girls' dreams and destroy their future.
To further inspire and support girls to stay their course, Rhobi Samweli, Founder and Director of Hope for Girls and Women in Tanzania shared her personal story.
She was mutilated at a young age and grew up to establish safe houses for young girls fleeing FGM in Mara & Butiama region.
Samweli inspired the girls to keep going, never give up, and to stay committed to their dreams.
Dina Stephen, a form four student from Hunyari said “We now know the effects of FGM, it can lead to death. This session has changed my life.
I feel confident, and now I am a stronger student; I can now defend myself whenever under any threat.” Maria Mwanyika, a student who attended the session said, “This workshop has inspired me. I believe I can be another Susan Mashibe, maybe even President like mama Samia Suluhu Hassan.”
Grumeti Fund wants to build the next generation of girls that are determined to speak up against injustice, amplify each other’s voices and spread a message of confidence and solidarity in achieving equality.