Girls in Arusha District Council are at the front line to prevent Gender Based Violence (GBV) through an initiative supported by DSW Tanzania. Through a girls empowerment Project a total of 131 peer educators are engaged in community development activities and outreaches to support prevention of GBV in their rural communities. The project contributes to the elimination of harmful practices and violations of girls and young women’s fundamental rights. In strengthening these efforts, DSW conducts interventions for peer educators, community champions, journalists’, service providers and leaders in prevention of Gender Based Violence.
The girls peer educators conduct peer sessions of Female Genital Mutilation elimination, Sexual and Gender based violence, Sexual reproductive health and rights, entrepreneurship, leadership and life skills. Through a stakeholders’ forum organized by DSW Tanzania, girls and young women got the opportunity to learn from Government technical experts on women empowerment, community development, youth and health related issues. The Project has enabled the girls to strengthen their capacities in knowing their rights as young women, advising their fellow peers on referral systems for support, establishment of group businesses to pursuing youth related economic opportunities.
A peer educator Lucia Saitabau said, “It has been a tough struggle but today with the knowledge we have we are empowered. This is just what we wanted and what we dreamt of to bring change to gender based violence and to end Female Genital Mutilation in our community. We will be at the front line to bring awareness to our fellow youth, women and our community so that they can support girls”.
Recently DSW organized a Multi-sectoral dialogue on girls’ empowerment at DSW offices in Arusha. The occasion witnessed orientation of National Plan of Action to End Violence against Women and Children in Tanzania (NPA-VAWC) and developing a Strategy on Stakeholder implementation of prevention of Gender Based Violence and Female Genital Mutilation. The girls groups were also supported with a grant to enhance their economic empowerment initiatives through Income Generating Activities (IGAs).
DSW Tanzania Program Manager, Philomena Marijani when giving her remarks, emphasized that “change starts with one person and girls should not engage in early marriage but protect themselves and future generation against harmful practices especially Female Genital Mutilation”
We are grateful for the support of this grant, it will support us to be economically self-reliant, enhance groups development and sustainability” said Happy Japhet a peer educator and group leader.