Inspiring Inclusion

In a world shaped by mostly male perspectives, women often struggle to feel the same sense of belonging that a man experiences. Throughout history, and even today on International Women’s Day, women from all walks of life have been and are being marginalised, side-lined and overlooked simply because of their gender. When we motivate each other to understand and value inclusion, women and girls can feel like they belong and matter. This process, called inspiring inclusion, is key to advancing female empowerment and is the theme of this year’s IWD.

On IWD, we honour female perspectives and experiences, drawing inspiration from those who challenge stereotypes and shatter glass ceilings. Each year, we highlight the contributions women have made and continue to make to society, history and culture. Gender equality is an ongoing responsibility that deserves our attention and is something we all can and should participate in.

Today, whilst we acknowledge there is still work to do, we celebrate the progress we have made towards gender equality in the UK. In Britain, feminism is a powerful movement that has come a long way.

However, we cannot ignore the reality that in many parts of the world, women and girls continue to confront discrimination and inequality. They face violence, abuse and unequal treatment at home, work and in their communities. Many women and girls are denied the chance to learn, earn and lead. 

Gender attitudes in Tanzania are advanced compared to many other Sub-Saharan African countries and the movement is gaining momentum. For instance, in 2022, Samia Suluhu Hassan became Tanzania’s first female president.

Despite progress, women and girls still experience significant hardship. Discriminatory social norms and traditional gender roles restrict a woman’s potential from a young age. Domestic obligations, lack of support for girls to stay in school, poverty and cultural ideologies about reproductive health all stack the odds against young girls achieving their full potential. Approximately 1 in 10 girls fail to complete their education with over 40% dropping out before they complete primary school.

Investing in young girls with the support and access to a good education is crucial for advancing women's rights in Tanzania, and that is what inspired us to launch our inclusivity initiative in September 2021.

In the rural areas we operate in, the work we complete as a village translates into the homes and attitudes of the community. This is why we host information sessions to educate communities about menstrual and reproductive health topics. We try to reshape traditional beliefs that a girl’s period is something to be ashamed of, which can interfere with their progress and attendance at school. We team up with village leaders and Kungwi (traditional village teachers of sexual health topics) to shift gender-related attitudes in homes, schools and the community. We believe that equality is everyone’s responsibility which is why we educate all community members, men and women alike, to support and value inclusion.

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Information session in progress 

In schools, we provide girls with the infrastructure, resources and support to attend school during their periods hygienically and with dignity. We’ve constructed essential infrastructure like private washrooms, equipped with spare clothes and reusable period pads, sewn by the students and local tailors with our support. Girls and boys are taught about menstrual health to ameliorate the traditionally taboo subject.

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Washrooms before and after

Girls in Tanzania are at enormous risk of early marriage, teenage pregnancy, domestic violence and HIV/ AIDS. Our extracurricular activities, such as weekly Girls’ Clubs, provide a safe space to discuss issues of consent and reporting abuse so they can learn to make informed decisions about their bodies. 

In Tanzania, the success of our inclusivity model has spread. The programme has been shared and replicated nationally. Now, we work with partners all over the country to improve safeguarding and child protection services. 

Thanks to your support, we have witnessed first-hand how our inclusivity program can change the lives of some of Africa's most vulnerable and disadvantaged women and girls. 

Celebrate the women and girls in your life this IWD and please support us in inspiring more inclusion in Tanzania. #IWD #InspireInclusion