“From I can’t to I can’’ these were words of excitement said by Ms Dora Msuya from Mto Simba Women Group during the official embedding of Women and Girls Information Resources Center into local authority, in Monduli district. During the month of November, DSW through the Women and Girls’ Empowerment (WOGE) project has embedded the Women Information center activities into local authority for continuous support and sustainability. The center aims at supporting women and girls overcome a viscous cycle of exclusion from knowledge and information access.
Increased productivity and increased income relies on crucial information. Women miss opportunities to increase their economic self-reliance due to lack of access to vital information that relates to their rights, markets and opportunities. Access to information is hampered by factors such as literacy and language, access to media, geographical location as well as other societal barriers. Rural women therefore have limited access to the information they need; they are dependent on word-of-mouth or mass media especially local radio for information and have had little say in what type of information is provided. In order to successfully apply their new individual and collective skills, women and girls need relevant and timely information as well as a decentralized place to coordinate such.
The Center is located at Mto wa Mbu Ward, Monduli District,Arusha and will continue facilitating the work of 12 women and girls groups. The Center is equipped with Information, Education and Communication Materials, relevant training manuals, CDs listening as well as various policy guidelines to facilitate groups knowledge cascading efforts. Essential office machines are also installed including an internet connected computer, printer, photocopy machine and a Television set to be used to support women and girls daily office duties. To enable women and girls to run own economic projects and support others three sewing machines have been placed at the center.
During the embedding and handover event the District Executive Director(DED) representative, Geofrey Luguma stated that it is hard for the District to carter for all needs of the population that is why it partners with stakeholders like DSW Tanzania. In his remark Mr Geofrey said that “We are grateful DSW through the WOGE project supported women and girls to establish and support this information centre for our women and girls groups in the district. It is in groups that women and girls can easily be reached by projects from the government and partners as well as them access to opportunities and information ……..and they can support each other in development’’.He pledged the district authority will continue to maintain the center by using district resources and their experts and argued women and girls to continue use the center based on its initial objectives and asked them to sustain the centre beyond the WOGE project.
Project beneficiaries acknowledged the center has an added value to women and girls beyond their economic aspect as group member can also access information on and services in SRH/FP from health service providers .On behalf of women and girls beneficiaries Ms Janet .thanked DSW and WOGE project
for focusing on empowering women and girls.“We can proudly say now we are empowered, we can now support ourselves, our families and our National at large”said Ms Janet
In his vote of thanks DSW Country Director Mr.Peter Owaga thanked the Monduli District Council for supporting WOGE project and the women and girls group for being ready to be part of the project. He said “It is you (women and girls) who give us hope to continue working as we hear and we see the impacts we are making in your lives, DSW encourages you now to maintain and continue using this center as a hub for your communication, networking and resource mobilization from different stakeholders ”.
The Women and Girl’s Economic Empowerment project-WOGE is a four years (2012-2015) project jointly implemented by DSW and EASSI funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs under Funding Leadership and Opportunity for Women (FLOW) and its central objective is to contribute to poverty reduction by strengthening women’s and girls’ voices for economic self-reliance in the East African region. The project was purposefully designed to draw from and complement the ongoing work in Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia. In Tanzania the project is specifically implemented in Monduli and Handeni districts of Arusha and Tanga regions respectively. The Project has got four outcomes namely:
• Women and girls develop the knowledge and skills to ably influence decisions on their economic self-reliance.
• Effective collective action at local level to improve economic self-reliance.
• Women and girls utilize available information to improve their economic self-reliance.
• Improved regulatory frame work and business services for economic self-reliance.