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Rafiki SDO- Changing Perceptions on Women and Children's Rights


18 August 2023

Awareness raising to community members through parenting and caregiver groups has greatly stimulated change in perceptions towards women and girls and reduced child marriages in Ilola ward.

This was revealed by community members during a discussion on the contribution of the project which was done at Ilola ward. Members of the Parents and caregivers’ group said that the knowledge they received through the TUWALEE project implemented by RAFIKI SDO has helped to change the thinking and attitudes of the community on the rights of women, girls, and children in general.

They explained that various efforts made through this project helped to reduce patriarchy to a large extent in the areas of the ward. There has been a great awakening for women and society in general has started to change its attitude towards them.

TUWALEEE project which was funded by WFT-T aimed at building awareness on parenting skills and practices in families and communities to reduce the risks and incidences of violence against women and children. The project used strategies of engaging local structures in addressing violence against women, child participation, male engagement, and skillful parenting.

They said that before the project, oppressive traditions encouraged children to marry early but through the education that has been provided, it has helped to reduce child marriages. Children are no longer married at a young age and harassment has decreased significantly I got married at a very young age(14) and suffered a lot of abuse in marriage. When I return home, I am told that I am bringing shame to the family, I should go back to my husband and I have no one to tell. Narrated Sarah Luhunde

They added that before awareness it was seen that a woman speaking in front of men or in public (eg meeting) was not a normal thing, and even the women themselves did not have that courage.

In our community, If a woman stands up in a meeting to make a point, she is not given the chance to contribute. Even if you force yourself to speak, you will be questioned by your husband at home. Therefore, a woman thinks it is better to stay silent to avoid problems. But the situation has changed now. Many women attend public meetings, they speak in front of men/public without fear. The ability to speak with confidence has really increased"

Similarly,Tatu Lubinza explained that in the past, the issue of girls going to school was a challenge. A parent thinks it is better to educate a male child than a female child._ "I am a victim of that. For example, I passed my Form four exams and I was selected to continue with my college education at Bunda Teachers College. My father refused to support me to go to college. He told me that he should use those resources to educate my brother. For me I should get married. So, all my dreams ended there. But the situation has changed now. Due to this project, many parents have become aware and are allowing their children to go to school"_. Explained Tatu.

Speaking about male transformation, they said that in the past, male children does not do any housework because they grew up knowing that all housework are women's work. But after awareness now the boys have started to cooperate and help their wives with housework. “I used not do any work at home. I believed that all work should be done by women. Now I have changed and I help my wife with all the work at home”. Narrated Paul James

On the issue of inheritance, we used to see that a female child is not entitled to be given anything. Only male child. currently, women are also getting their right to inheritance.

“We were living with men who were selfish, not self-aware, but now the project has helped to change them. They have started to know themselves”.

Advising on how to continue to reach a large part of the community, they said more education should be provided to community members. _"In order to continue to increase awareness in the community, awareness should be improved, especially by using approaches that are compatible with the local community, including sports and bicycle races that bring many people together in those areas" _Advised Paulo

On his part, Shinyanga DC Social Welfare officer also advised that traditions, customs and practices that suppress the rights of other groups are unacceptable. He emphasized that when they see violence or harassment, they should report it immediately through the right channels.

_"Our traditions and customs are good, but there are some traditions that continue to provoke the violation of the rights of others. The government will not agree with those"