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16 Days of Activism: ‘realising gender equality through empowering adolescent girls in Msalala’.

Last updated 7 months ago

16 Days of Activism: ‘realising gender equality through empowering adolescent girls in Msalala’.

On the 1st of the December 2020 three form 1 girls; Helena Joseph, Mengi Daudi and Mengi Lucas welcomed our team at their school where they are pursuing their secondary education. These three amazing and brilliant young girls were among the winners of the International Day of the Girl Child Bicycle Tournament (IDGC-Tournament 2020); where Helen was the first runner up, Mengi Lucas the 2nd runner up and the Mengi Daudi was 6th runner up.

In commemorating 16 Days of Activism we wanted to speak to all 10 girls who were IDGC-Tournament 2020 winners and mentor them in their new role as GBV Champions (GBV Champs to advocate for an end to violence against women and children, promote sexual and reproductive health education and promote gender equality in their schools, homes and communities).

At their school, we were thrilled to see boys speak out about girls being impregnated by community members who should be protecting them. The boys were sympathetic of the many challenges their sisters face, especially those still in secondary school. They said that communities see school going teenage girls as ‘projects’ in all social and economic aspects of life.  

One of the GBV Champs said, ‘As a girl in our community, anything can happen. Your dreams can be shattered instantly, if you are not married off to someone, then pregnancy can determine your destiny, of which we are all aware that when you get pregnant there is no hope for your future.’

The long distance between home and school is also a threat for most girls as this perpetuates the possibility of abuse during the commute to and from school. Girls also spend most of their time in their homes helping moms in household chores and in Msalala, these activities include animal grazing, firewood collection, water collection, cooking, etc. In turn girls, unlike boys, spend less and less time on their homework and private studying.

Despite all the aforementioned odds above, the GBV Champs and hosts were happy to share their stories on how thrilled they were with the IDGC-Tournament 2020! How, for instance, excited they were with the overall event turn out.  

Our 6th winner mentioned that it was not easy for her to come to the event because when she showed up at school that day, the whole ‘team’ had left and she had to bike to Segese grounds almost 22 kilometres away – she arrived to find the tournament was about to start. She further confessed that she had fought hard for her win because she wanted to prove to her family that she can do it – since her family had been teasing her that she was just wasting her time and that she would never make it. For her, the win was personal and was not about the prize but rather about showing her family how capable she is – that was the real win.

Collectively, the three GBV Champs asked us to prepare another event next year and many similar ‘GBV awareness’ events periodically. They say the events, besides providing a chance to prove to their communities of their abilities as girls, are opportunities to engage, learn, and socialise because they believe it is more fun and healthier for them to meet new people and learn new experiences from people of different backgrounds.

This story was written by Msalala Field Team and compiled by C-Sema’s Media Team.