Many women in the countries of Africa deal with marginalization and lack of opportunities. Tanzania is no exception. However, there have been efforts to improve this and empower women. Three unique programs aimed at improving women’s empowerment in Tanzania include USAID/Tanzania’s Gender Equality and Youth Inclusion Project, also known as Tumaini (“Hope” in Kiswahili), Let Girls Learn and the Waache Wasome (Let Them Learn) program.
Among the issues that women in Tanzania face include discriminatory laws, restrictive customary practices, no control over resources, barriers to decision-making, maternal mortality rates and HIV.
The Tumaini program includes a broad range of programs by working with communities and local government to increase women’s equality and youth inclusion.
Tanzania is one of two initial priority countries under Let Girls Learn, a United States government initiative to ensure young girls and women receive an education with the goal to improve enrollment and retention in educational programs.
Even though primary school enrollment among girls and boys is nearly equivalent in Tanzania, less than 20 percent of women age 20-24 have completed secondary school and 20 percent have never had any education, according to USAID.
Since USAID and the Department of State launched the Let Girls Learn Challenge Fund in 2015, the Waache Wasome (Let Them Learn) program has been launched. Waache Wasome is a five-year program working to improve the enrollment and retention of girls ages 13 to 19 in secondary school in select districts of the Arusha and Mara regions.
Over the five-year life of the project, Waache Wasome will reach at-risk adolescent girls and their families, covering 268 communities and 67 secondary schools across the four target districts of Tanzania. Their mission is to “address barriers to girls’ education” and “combat gendered beliefs and practices within homes, schools and communities and empower adolescent girls to aspire to and reach their full potential to learn and achieve.”
Because of these programs along with other efforts to combat women’s inequality and provide opportunities for education, there is hope for women’s empowerment in Tanzania, as well as hope for women all over to be empowered and make changes within their communities and in the world.
– Julia Lee