International Women’s Day is a global celebration of the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women across the world.
We must recognise and celebrate those successes and strengths because worldwide it is women – and especially girls – who are the most vulnerable to abuse.
Girls like Dativa.
A student at Enduimet Secondary school in northern Tanzania, Dativa had dreams of breaking away from the poverty of her community. She was attending secondary school and had hopes for a future that her family would be proud of. That dream was stolen when she became pregnant.
The father of Dativa’s child is her teacher. He promised marriage, gave her gifts and threatened to fail her in her exams. In short, he used his position of power to take advantage of a girl he should have been there to protect.
Unfortunately this story is all too common in Tanzania. Most of these girls are desperately poor and when an older man offers gifts such as books, clothes and food in exchange for sex, it’s almost impossible for them to know how to refuse.
Fortunately, one of our partners conducted inspections at Dativa’s school as part of our Equal Rights Project. It was reported to the district authorities and an investigation is under way. Her speaking out and being supported will send an important message to other girls and teachers at her school.
At African Initiatives, we are implementing child protection policies in schools which did not previously have them. We are sensitising teachers and governors about the importance of these policies, of the law and of children’s rights. We are there for the thousands of girls like Dativa who desperately want to have an education without fear of intimidation and bullying.
In partnership with grass-roots organisations in Northern Tanzania, our Equal Rights Project:
- Implements effective Child Protection policies and practices so that girls feel able to report abuse when it takes place and so that there is a process to deal with perpetrators of abuse properly
- Provides additional support to teachers to understand issues like child rights, ethical relationships, Gender Based Violence and HIV, ensuring they are more aware of their responsibilities, and of national policies and laws on the prevention of abuse of children.
- Sets up Health Clubs in participating schools to provide a forum for students to support one another socially and academically, and to learn and speak freely about wider health issues including FGM, unplanned pregnancy, gender-based violence and abuse.
Please help us continue this important work, by donating to our appeal this International Women’s Day. We believe that Every Girl Matters. If you do too, please, help us be there for girls like Dativa.