Tanzania Diaries: 12 – International Women’s Day

08 March 2018

This morning Mahjooba bravely joined our friends, Sophie and Franky, without ever meeting them before, and was apart of the International Woman’s Day Parade through Morogoro. I unfortunately had to miss the morning parade and collect some data from one of the CSSC schools before joining them at noon.

At CSSC, I was given an all girls class and handed out my surveys. The male teachers at this school do not seem to like us… They teach the girls that males are more superior than them and seem to want to keep it that way. By us being women traveling alone, we are already an example of empowerment, and I think the male teachers sense that. Before I was even done with my research a male teacher asked me to leave the class three times. He wasn’t even their teacher.

One of the girls asked me about my question regarding what they wanted to be when they grow up, and she asked me “How do I say I want to be ‘big’?” Confused I responded with, “like a wrestler?” And she quickly explained, “I want to be big and important. I want to change things” my heart exploded for her and told her to write down “world leader”. Her face lit up like the sun and she wrote down she wanted to be a world leader. I told her that the only person to ever stop her from achieving those goals is herself and to not listen to anyone who says otherwise. All I want to do is tie myself to that school and be a feminist speaker and encourage these girls every single day.

This is the third time I have visited this school and it has been very concerning for me to see the girls treated less than the boys. The common link I have seen in all of the schools is that female teachers are rare due to the social stereotype that males are superior and should be the ones teaching children what they allowed to know or not. I’ve also seen and heard that the girls are discouraged and/or not allowed to use technology (computer, tablets, etc.), And the reasons for this being that the girls won’t know what to do with all of the information in the outside world if they were to go on the internet. Some men have even said that the girls would turn into ‘whores’ and ‘sluts’ if given access to social media. Even without internet access, they have convinced girls that they are naturally not good with technology. At the colleges where there is no longer authority preventing the girls from using technology, they seem to avoid technology and only use it when they have to.

When I was done with my research for the day, I grabbed a taxi to join Mahjooba, Sophie, and Frank at the International Women’s Day festival. This was the first time I have ever done or seen a celebration for this holiday. Maybe I’ve just never heard of any events locally in America, or it’s just not as big of a deal for Americans. Regardless, this was my first time CELEBRATING International Women’s Day. There was dancing and music everywhere. There was speakers from different schools and communities. They gave out beautiful art and live goats as awards to the strong women in the community. They were also handing out booklets explaining women’s property rights and other laws that protect them in Tanzania.

After the awards we’re handed out, another dance began. Women grabbed me my the hands and showed me how to dance the same dance as them. I was having so much fun with you can see in the pictures below

After the festival, we said goodbye to Franky and our new friend, Freddy. We jumped on a bus filled with women to be taken to a conference hall with more amazing speakers celebrating women’s empowerment in the community. They served us amazing Tanzanian food from a catering company and we devoured our plates.

A women handed Mahjooba and I her baby so she could go dance and spend time with her friends, and we could have not been happier to take her precious baby off her hands!

After we left the party, we hopped into a daladala to take us back home to the center. There was a young Muslim women sitting in one of the front seats for almost the entire journey with us. But once we got to a stop where more men were picked up, I saw her told and forced to move to sit on the floor of the bus so that a man could take her seat. My heart shattered after such a day of empowering women to be reminded of how much work there is left to be done.

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