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How Livingstone Tanzania Trust is supporting women and girls

As a charity we recognise that cultures the world over have not treated women and girls as equals to men and boys and that this, in some cultures, is changing, albeit slowly.

Conscious decisions to move towards greater equality need to be matched by also addressing the unconscious biases that are also carried, but that is for each person and each culture to address in their own time and space.

New girls toilets being built at a secondary school

As a charity we work in various ways to address the systemic inequity that we find in education. This manifests itself through the poor toilets. Toilets for boys and girls are mostly unsanitary but we find that the girls’ toilets lack provision for them to manage their periods which results in them missing a large chunk of school and falling behind academically. Why is this so? Because historically toilets have been designed by men who, because of the taboos surrounding menstruation, are ignorant of the needs of girls, and because of sexist attitudes they have not consulted girls.

When we work with schools we publicly consult the girls, we listen to their suggestions as to how their toilets can be improved and that is then what we deliver. We also consult the community and ask them to think about the needs of their daughters from aged 5 to 20 and the different needs they might have over that time of personal growth. Through discussions they recognise those changing needs and when together we inspect the existing toilets we ask whether they meet those needs. When the do not, the community commit to helping to build new better toilets.

In further sessions we tackle misinformation about menstruation, which includes the teachers. This can result in the male teachers changing their behaviour and not using toilet breaks as a way to control the class. The programme also talks to the boys to help them understand and change their behaviour to one of support rather than shaming.

We also work with women-only enterprise training programmes to support women enhance their business skills so that they can contribute to the household income and have a voice over where that money is spent. The training is offered at times that suit their lifestyles and do not conflict with their household responsibilities.


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