Hope for Girls and Women awarded a micro grant to help map Tanzania

Hope for Girls and Women Tanzania is among seven organisations that have be awarded an Open Map Development Tanzania (OMDTZ) Community Impact Microgrant of $5,000. OMDTZ selected recipient organisations with the intention;

The grants provided will support these communities to leverage the use of OSM and mapping to help solve different community challenges.

Mapping is playing a key role in our fight against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and Gender-Based Violence (GBV) and the empowerment of Tanzanian women as remote villages are made more accessible to authorities.

Hope will use the grant to expand the existing Open Street Map (OSM) Community around Mugumu, Serengeti. By improving our maps of the district, we are able to provide better support and advice to girls and women in Mugumu.

The grant will help our work to recruit 25 new OSM community mappers around Mugumu who will be trained on different tools that support mapping, including:

  • Maps.me application
  • ID editor
  • JOSM

They will also receive training in how to use Open Data Kit Collector for Data Collection.

The goal is to map all of the health centres available in 30 villages, showing the services provided at each, and whether each centre’s facilities are adequate in relation to the community population they need to support.

The grant will additionally help us to buy equipment such as laptops, smartphones and routers.  We will also be able to rent a hall for workshops and training, provide transportation for data collection, and support other logistical requirements for a period of six months.

Mapping training using smartphones in Tanzania

At this point, we will present back our findings to the community and also create a map of each village, showing the health centre facilities that are available there.

75% of those recruited will be female, which helps to promote and encourage the inclusion of women in technology and OSM in Tanzania. We are seeing increasing numbers of women wishing to train and contribute to maps, and they are also getting a lot of enjoyment seeing the benefits of technology on their daily lives and that of the local community. You can read about our recent training of Digital Champions in Butiama District here, including how their work will help the fight against FGM in Tanzania.

We are excited to be welcoming to the workshop and training Mara Red Cross and SETCO Youth mappers who will be involved to learn more about how mapping can help solving community challenges.

We look forward to bringing you further updates on this Microgrant and the project in general.

If you are interested in donating to Hope and would like to know how contributions are used, you can find out more here.

New Digital Champions recruited and trained by Hope, with funding from UNFPA Tanzania

By Herry Kasunga

In June, Hope for Girls and Women Tanzania and Masanga Center recruited 59 Digital champions in Butiama District, Tanzania. Each village has one Digital Champion who will educate girls and women in their communities about the impact of Gender Based Violence (GBV) and Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).

The Digital Champions were given smartphones, with access to apps to support their work to promote gender equality in their communities. The phone apps include:

  • ODK for reporting GBV cases happening in their villages, this data is then submitted to Hope and Gender Desk Police for investigation and rescue of girls at risk;
  • Maps.me for mapping features such as hospitals, clinics, pharmacies, schools, police stations, churches and safe places around their villages.

The event was attended by Butiama District Social Welfare, with Butiama Gender Desk Police contributing to training the Digital champions on GBV, whilst also sharing their own experiences.

The Training was conducted over two days in June 2021. Day one covered the purpose of Digital champions and expectation of their works, an introduction to and types of GBV, and FGM.

For many of the Digital Champions, it was their first time holding a smartphone, so we showed them how to:

  • switch the phone on/off
  • make a call
  • send texts/SMS
  • view and interact with apps

Day 2 included a recap of day one’s training in the morning, followed by training on the ODK tool, collating the required information and how to send this to Hope. We went through all of the questions available in the forms to ensure the Digital Champions were clear on appropriate and helpful responses.

We also demonstrated how to use WhatsApp for communication and support, in case there are any challenges.  A WhatsApp group was set up on the day, allowing all of the Digital Champions to get support from their peers.

Digital Champions taking notes in training

At the end of the training, all of the digital champions signed a contract confirming receipt of their smartphones and that they are ready to work as Digital champions and help fight GBV and FGM in their villages.

Special thanks to UNFPA Tanzania, through their funding, this training was made possible.

Read more about our Digital Champions programme here.

Facilitating the creation of female entrepreneur groups in Serengeti and Butiama

Rhobi teaching entrepreneurs

The Hope team recently organised a gathering for women and girls in Serengeti and Butiama, Tanzania, to learn important skills to help them generate income. The entrepreneurship training included the sharing of information on how to work economically, ensuring a profit can be made from their industry of choice.

We tasked the women with identifying a business initiative that they wanted to explore in more detail, and we helped them to plan out how best to make this venture a success. Support in numbers can be important for a new business, with different skill sets and strengths coming together to build an even stronger solution.

Hope facilitated the women forming mutual interest groups, and provided seed capital of TSH 500,000 (Approx €182 Euros / $216 USD) to help them to start their project.

Talal Rafi explains in his article, Why Women Entrepreneurs Are Critical To Economic Growth, for Forbes “…the immense potential of women when given a more level playing field, such as mentoring, capacity building and access to credit, as well as their inherent leadership skills critical to success in entrepreneurship.”

One of the purposes of helping these girls and women to form their new businesses, is the independence it provides.

The income will help them to support themselves and their families, and will play a role in reducing gender based violence from their husbands and other family members.

Women receiving entrepreneurship training

Running the businesses will give the women confidence and a sense of empowerment, allowing these new entrepreneurs to realise that they can fulfil their dreams.

As well as providing two safe houses for girls escaping from FGM, GBV, child marriage, and rape, Hope also organises a number of event and initiatives, such as this entrepreneurship training. You can read more about these projects in our monthly updates from Hope’s founder and director, Rhobi.

Rhobi Participates in Women’s Health Talk

On 5th December 2020, East African Education Foundation and TUHEDA hosted a Women’s Health Talk to discuss the impact of female genital mutilation (FGM). Hope founder, Rhobi Samwelly, joined a panel with OB-GYN specialist Dr. Leila Rusamba and international broadcaster Zuhra Yunus. Together, they educated attendees on the health risks of FGM and the strides being made to educate communities.

They stressed the biological implications of cutting girls without consent across the four types of FGM. When girls lose their clitoris, they essentially lose a part of their body that they don’t yet understand. They do not comprehend what they have lost, and how this practice will redefine their attitudes towards intimacy, which in turn increases the potential of domestic violence. In addition, while the clitoris may be considered a small part of the human body, it is served by an artery that contains a major blood supply, so when the artery is cut, there is potential to bleed to death.

FGM also affects childbirth, particularly due to the extent of cutting and the scarring left behind. In the most severe case, when genitalia is completely closed, there is no passage for the baby to come out. Thus there is a high likelihood for the woman to suffer a hemorrhage, and for the death of the woman and child. In cases of partial removal, the scar tissue that has healed does not stretch as much as normal tissue, increasing health risks and pain levels during birth.

However, Rhobi discussed how our work has visibly changed attitudes towards FGM in rural Tanzania. She can see girls standing up for themselves and refusing to undergo this rampant practice, with a prevalence of around 32%1 in the Mara region. Parents have also started refusing for their girls to be cut, and laws have been more strictly enforced to send cutters to prison.

She also highlighted the support received from boys and men. While Mara is a male-dominated area, men are a part of our FGM clubs and attempt to educate other men about the effects of gender-based violence and harmful traditions. Boys have increasingly refused to marry girls who have been cut after learning about unwarranted health risks. There have been challenges in educating families who value the income generated from cutting. Families receive higher dowries when girls who marry are cut. Yet through our community dialogue, and awareness generation, Rhobi believes that progress is being made.

Rhobi then discussed some of the Hope initiatives taking place during the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, including a village debate with men around gender-based issues, a mapathon during Human Rights Day, and a girls’ march in front of government leaders. These actions are designed to raise awareness around the issue of FGM. Rhobi summarised:

“You have to create awareness. You have to teach them about the effects of FGM. Change is slow, but one day FGM will be history.”

Watch the full recording here:

1 UNFPA report on FGM

Debating Gender-Based Violence with male villagers in Northern Tanzania

In December 2020, we held debates with 60 local men in Bonchugu village and Nyamburi village, Northern Tanzania, around the impact of female genital mutilation (FGM) and other forms of gender-based violence. They voiced their views on questions including;

  • Why do men like to marry girls who are cut?
  • Why do men not like to marry girls who are not cut?
  • What are the challenges that girls who are cut are likely to face in their society?

This fostered a dialogue that challenged gender roles and practices as a step towards ending harmful practices against girls and women.

Those gathered discussed how men prefer to marry circumcised girls so that they can protect their wealth, earn respect within their communities, and build recognition as keepers of their customs and traditions.

They also examined how men did not like to marry uncircumcised girls because they believed that it would be a curse on their families. Men and their wives would be segregated by other villagers as girls who are not cut are not allowed to participate in traditional ceremonies and partake in community decisions. Some of the challenges faced by girls who marry without being cut were raised and included:

  • They will likely face segregation among community members
  • They may be called names and insulted
  • They will not be involved in activities of their tradition
  • They will be prohibited from contributing to community decisions.

We then evaluated the challenges that girls face when they undergo female genital mutilation. Men were educated on how girls face bleeding during cutting, which may lead to death, and how it is possible to be infected with diseases such as HIV due to cutters using the same tools across recipients.

Locals discussed how to end gender-based violence in their societies. Men believed that governments should more strictly enforce the law, and education should be provided to community members. In addition, traditional elders should be taught the impact of gender-based violence and be convinced to align with governmental goals for abolishing it. More safe houses should also be constructed to protect girls during this period of drastic change.

We then listed baseline expectations among locals to be ambassadors during the fight against gender-based violence. Men should inform the police when they detect unwarranted practices in their villages and should educate their communities about the impact of FGM and gender-based violence at large.

Holding debates and community outreach events can foster a continuing dialogue that will challenge and change existing norms around gender practices. Being able to engage men in villages in this way is also a huge indication of the progress being made, we will continue to build upon these opportunities to have an open dialogue with individuals who previously would have been unwilling to do so.

This debate formed part of our recognition of the United Nation’s 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence. Please see our series of blog posts and our social channels for further information on the events we have been involved in during this important 16 days.