In Tanzania, 7.9 million women have undergone Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and 3 million more girls are at risk annually. FGM is still a strong part of the culture and traditions even though this practice has been prohibited in the country since 1998.
LEVERAGING THE POWER OF KNOWLEDGE
Crossroads teamed up with local partner Tanzania Gender Network Programme (TGNP) to pilot the innovative project Supporting Sustainable Agriculture to End Female Genital Mutilation. It seeks to enhance women’s economic and leadership capacity through sustainable agriculture for the reduction of FGM and other forms of gender-based violence. The project has been very successful in intervening and sensitizing practitioners, community members as well as girls, mothers and fathers against FGM through Knowledge centers. The story of Tausi Msani is testament to this success.
When Tausi first joined the project through the Knowledge Centre Sauti ya Jamii, she had no knowledge of what was meant by gender-based violence or that FGM was considered gender-based violence. After attending several seminars with other community members, the Tanzanian woman became an advocate for gender equality, moving on to sensitize 300 people in her own community against Female Genital Mutilation.
“When I think about all the changes that have occurred as a result of my involvement in the activities of the Knowledge Centre, I feel the most important change is increased courage to fight female genital mutilation,” said Tausi Msani
SPEAKING UP AND RAISING AWARENESS
She participated in the annual Gender festival organized by TGNP, reaching more than 400 people with her advocacy against the practice. Her engagement and hard work to fight against the practice paid off. Thanks to her leadership, she saved 7 at risk girls in her community from being cut. By being vocal, by speaking up and talking to the parents, Tausi was able to not only save these girls, but successfully sensitized their parents against the practice, allowing the girls to safely return home.
Tausi has grown to become a very active member of the Kipunguni Knowledge Centre; where she participated in a year long campaign to address FGM and teen pregnancies. As a result of the campaign 38 girls were rescued from FGM and are being trained in the centre on how to sew. While being a local advocate Tausi who received 20 chicks thanks to the Supporting Sustainable Agriculture to End Female Genital Mutilation Project also managed to grow her poultry to 400 chicks over the course of a year, increasing her opportunities for income growth. Not only is she increasing her personal revenue, Tausi is also changing the lives of hundreds of people in her community from at risk girls to mothers, fathers and entire families.
Since the program launched in 2017, there have been no cases of FGM since 2018 in the first community. In the second community where program was launched the following year, 38 at-risk girls were rescued from cutting, and 21 cut girls were sent to the MASANGA Centre (safe house) during FGM season for trauma counselling and follow up treatments. A total of 96 members attended trainings where 70% were female participants involved in cutting. Twenty-five former practitioners are speaking out against the practice and holding prevention workshops. In addition, community members are receiving training in alternative income options (poultry, fish and vegetable farming), entrepreneurship, accounting, gender equality, as well as gender-based violence and protection.