[World Cultures and Language Day at CCP] Women’s Voices Must Be Heard: Sustainable Development in East Africa

Hye-yun Sohn, Web Editor

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Can you imagine your daily life with limited access to clean water? What would be the first thing you do to get through the day? Unfor­tunately, lacking clean water source is major concern for most Tanzanians in the past as well as today in some parts of their country. In Tanzanian society, the social norm for finding water for the household is the women’s responsibility. This gender role in Tanzanian so­ciety sadly has made girls to miss out on schools, as well as encounter risks for their own safety through possible wild animal attacks while performing this duty.

Margareth Awiti, the president and founder of the Philadelphia Seren­geti Alliance, came to the USA in 1996. Accord­ing to Ms. Awiti, she has seen great opportunities in the States, which she could use them to help people back in her home country. Ms. Awiti also added that she wanted to support people who are in need, especially women in Tanzania. As she witnessed their strug­gles and suffering when she worked as a nurse in her home country, she sought better changes to improve their lives.

When Ms. Awiti was looking for some pos­sible ways to help her country, she thought that helping them to fulfill basic needs could bring huge changes in Tan­zania, such as facilitating sustainable water sources for the public. In the U.S.A., we generally have easy access to water for the public. As a result, we somehow take it for grant­ed. In Tanzania, however, people commonly struggle in their daily lives to find clean water for the day and are exposed to various diseases as a result.

As of now, the Phila­delphia-Serengeti Alliance has constructed three water wells in Masinki, Kowak, and Mkula with support from members of St. Peter’s Episcopal church in Philadelphia. Ms. Awiti stated that this sustainable clean wa­ter source has brought positive impact on those communities; girls are now able to continue their stud­ies without missing their classes, pregnancy rate has dropped because of the increase in adult supervi­sion, and the number of diseases has declined as well. Interestingly, the development of a clean water supply has created better relationship between boys and girls in these communities, regardless of the gender roles in their society. Ms. Awiti said this social norm has started to change very slowly but she is hopeful for the future of Tanzanian women.

Throughout the pre­sentation, I was quite astounded by the fact that Tanzanian women are still greatly mistreated in their society. One example of this is that Tanzanian soci­ety generally favors males’ opinions over females’. Additionally, there are less education opportunities for girls as well as female circumcision. In the quest for worldwide gender equality, there are hopes for these customs to be stopped immediately. However, it will take time as sudden changes could lead or create troubles in their society. As Ms. Awiti stated that in her presentation, they need constant efforts to make women’s voice heard in Tanzanian society.

At CCP, they offer ‘study abroad’ programs over spring semester next year, and Tanzania is one of the programs offered to students. The experi­ence gained through this study abroad program could benefit students to widen their horizons.

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[World Cultures and Language Day at CCP] Women’s Voices Must Be Heard: Sustainable Development in East Africa