Women Economic Empowerment
There are considerable differences in women’s and men’s access and opportunities to exert power over economic structures in their societies. Our key focus is on women and girl’s empowerment and MikonoYetu supports women and girls to run small enterprises. The goal of MikonoYetu’s work on small enterprises is to start formalizing and ensuring growth. In Mwanza, MikonoYetu has partnered with Small Industries Development Organization (SIDO) to provide Business Development Support Services (BDS) to women particularly those in rural areas. BDS services include:
- Entrepreneurship training
- Finding markets including use of mobile phones
- Finance literacy (saving and investing)
- Training in food fermentation/preservation
Additionally, MikonoYetu partners with Kivulini Women’s Rights Organization based in Mwanza to provide legal literacy sessions on ownership of productive resources and the impact of gender-based violence.
Furthermore, MikonoYetu works in partnership with the University of Western Ontario, Canada (https://international.uwo.ca/whe/) to implement a social enterprise model where mamas (women) own small kitchens that are used to produce Probiotic food which are good for health and business development. Currently, MikonoYetu has successfully registered a Cooperative Society that has more than 130 members in 16 regions of Tanzania. More than 95% of the cooperative members are women. MikonoYetu with SIDO supports the members to build small-scale industries that acquire Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS) approval.
The Definition of Women Economic Empowerment
MikonoYetu’s approach in addressing Womens Economic Empowerment (WEE) has been adopted from the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) which has shown that:
A woman is economically empowered when she has both the ability to succeed and advance economically and the power to make and act on economic decisions.
- To succeed and advance economically, women need the skills and resources to compete in markets, as well as fair and equal access to economic institutions.
- To have the power and agency to benefit from economic activities, women need to have the ability to make and act on decisions and control resources and profits
~ ICRW, 2011
“Adolescent girls are often treated as inferior and are socialized to put themselves last, thus undermining their self-esteem” (UN Women, 1995). Thus, in and out of schools, MikonoYetu builds the self-esteem and confidence among girls ages 10-19 in order for them to reach their full potential. MikonoYetu does this through story telling of Queen Worriers and other powerful women who have succeeded in life. MikonoYetu also provides mentorship sessions to girls to realize their potential as well as become leaders.
Furthermore, in Mwanza, MikonoYetu supports an exciting movement named “Eagle Movement for Adolescent girls in Mwanza”. This movement fights the socialization and internalization that women and girls are weak, that they are chickens, instead it boldly claims that “women and girls are eagles not chickens.” This Girls Movement follows what the late President Julius Kambarage Nyerere wrote in 1944 while studying at Makerere University.
“Women, you are created in the image of God, but people have made you think that you are chickens, and you yourselves also think so; but you are actually eagles. Straighten your wings and fly, do not be content with chicken feed. With your own efforts and with the support of your friends take yourselves out of this state of weakness in which you are today, so that you can enjoy freedom and justice in a peaceful world”.
Our intention is to follow the writings of the Late President Nyerere to ensure adolescent girls better understand that they are not weak as chickens but strong as eagles who can flap their wings and fly.
Founded in 2021, Msichana TV is run by 15 adolescent girls who dream of becoming journalists. The channel provides unique programming written, directed, and produced by girls for girls. With an audience of approximately 50,000 people, the channel seeks to:
- Empower other girls with knowledge that enables them to challenge social norms and practices that disempower them
- Strengthen girls confidence and self-esteem
- Educate on gender-based violence and reproductive health
- Increase community involvement and girls economic participation
Msichana Tv is supported by MikonoYetu and is under incubation of SIDO through Innovative Hub to ensure its growth.
Women and the Environment
The deterioration of natural resources displaces communities, especially women, from income-generating activities while greatly adding to unremunerated work. “In both urban and rural areas, environmental degradation results in negative effects on the health, well-being and quality of life of the population at large, especially girls and women of all ages” (UN Women, 2014). Understanding the consequences of the deterioration of natural resources, in rural areas, MikonoYetu strengthens the capacities of women and girls to manage natural resources while mitigating the negative impact of climate change. MikonoYetu mobilizes the community to plant trees and promotes the diversification of energy sources, such as solar (particularly solar cooking stoves and refrigerators) and Jiko Safi that uses jatropha seeds instead of charcoal or firewood. Furthermore, MikonoYetu supports women to establish beekeeping projects which contribute to income-generating activities as well as environment protection as more trees are being planted.
Violence Against women
Violence against women and girls (VAWGs) is a cross–cutting issue to MikonoYetu’s work, as it is a major obstacle to the achievement of the objectives of equality, development and peace. Violence against women both violates and impairs or nullifies the enjoyment by women of their human rights and fundamental freedoms. Being a cross–cutting issue, MikonoYetu works in networks, coalitions and partnerships to eradicate VAWGs. Currently, MikonoYetu works in partnership with 4 non–governmental organizations based in Mwanza to mobilized communities to prevent violence against women using the SASA! approach designed by Raising Voices, a pioneer of violence prevention approach based in Kampala, Uganda. SASA! approach has been scientifically tested and is currently used worldwide.