While the UK tried to stay cool during the June heatwave, I made sure I wrapped up warm during the winter evenings in Arusha, Tanzania, where I was working with some of African Initiatives’ partner organisations.
I spent the first few days of my trip with Lilian Looloitai, Managing Director of CORDS. Together, we are developing a new girls’ education programme for DFID’s Girls Education Challenge Fund, which will have a focus on out-of-school pastoralist girls. Maasai girls in Tanzania are disadvantaged in a number of ways – across Tanzania, Maasai people generally are misunderstood and marginalised, and within Maasai culture itself women and girls are often treated as second-class citizens. Girls are under-valued, are habitually forced into early marriage, sometimes when they are as young as seven, and are sold for dowry (bride price). Especially when life is tough and financial resources are limited, boys will be prioritised over girls when it comes to sending a child to school. As well as promoting girls’ education in general, our new programme will focus on making sure that disabled girls (and boys) are not left behind in education. Even though Tanzania has national policies on inclusive education, disabled people are frequently hidden away and hard to reach, and schools often lack the resources to support them.