During a sit down interview with some of the remarkable women of CDF(TuWezeshe implementing partner in Tanzania), Lulu Lipumba, the new intern and interviewer got to learn some interesting things about a few of her co-workers. This candid but fun interview took many twists and turns as we spoke about their man crush Mondays, sexism in the workplace, admirable social justice warriors and the current state of the fight against FGM in Tanzania.
Q: Tell us about a Tanzanian female social justice warrior you look up to and why you’ve chosen her.
A: Well, that would have to be with no doubt, Mama Hellen Kijo Bisimba. Oh my god I love that woman! She is amazing and she has spent a good portion of her life fighting for human and women’s rights. If it’s a warrior I feel that she is one of the most passionate warriors out there. Especially considering the time when not many were brave enough to speak out. She has done so much with regards to sexual and gender-based violence, building up the confidence of girls and women in our society, and bringing to light the amount of violence happening to girls and women in communities. She has inspired me to do more for my community, for me to take action and to be bold for change to happen. Over the years she has mostly been a women’s and children’s activist. I feel that if I ever grow up I want to be exactly like her, you know the saying I’m talking about (laughs). She has just done so much for the Masaai communities, women in Shinyanga- you hear stories of the amazing work she has done and just remain in awe. I really would like to be remembered in such a way.
Q:Fantastic, I need to look her up after this, it’s been a while. So Amina, totally random out of the blue question before we delve into deeper topics… do you like animals?
A: Yes, I do for the most part.
Q: I like that answer “for the most part”! What would you say then is you favourite animal?
A: My favourite would have to be a cat. Those furry friends are very majestic, and independent and confident in their own skin. I don’t know, I’ve just connected with them, which is an improvement because growing up, my mother never allowed us to have pets so I grew up very scared of being around animals! But one day I saw this cute little kitten outside my house that was injured. My brother and I made a pact to care for him and later on adopted him and somehow forced our mother to agree to let us to keep him which wasn’t easy but my life and love for cats begun there. We named him Camillo. He died 2 years back but ever since then cats for me are a great companion.
Q: Do you think the number of FGM cases have reduced in Tanzania?
A: So, the statistics have decreased and the Tanzania demographic survey of 2015/2016 shows there is a decrease of FGM from 15% to 10% — that’s a 5% decrease of FGM cases! And to be honest, I can’t say it has been easy, the movement to 10% is because of the efforts of so many stakeholders: the civil society organisations, other development partners and more international organisations championing women’s rights. The government has tried to put in place several frameworks that protect women. An example is the police Gender & Children’s Desks that allows women and children to report cases of violence against women and children including FGM and child marriage. In terms of the legal framework, there is a law that prevents FGM occurring between the ages of 0 –18. So yeah there is a decrease, however it is not enough. FGM is technically legal from 18 and onward because the law is silent on FGM above the age of 18. The Sexual Offences Special Provisions Act — SOSPA of 1998 — prohibits FGM for children but is silent on cases above 18 years. So to me that’s not enough as it leaves a huge gap and allows young women to be targets after 18, because nothing will prosecute the culprits, and so definitely, more needs to be done to reach the goal of “No FGM”. We need laws in place conveying that FGM is totally prohibited and completely banned. Whether it being towards a child or an older woman just like what our brothers and sisters in Kenya did.
Our second interviewee and the munchkin of the office, Nancy Minja continues the conversation from here
Q: I’ll start off by asking you how you think the workshops CDF conducts in different school regions in Dar-es salaam, engage the children to be young activists?
A: It’s all in the methods and approaches that we use to train them and the content we impart them with which helps them realise their rights and the responsibility they have in pursuing what they believe to be right. We also emphasise the importance of giving back to the community. Topics such as self-confidence, advocacy, communication — these are topics that will help these young children to become activists of human rights. Oh yes, I forgot to mention that we teach them about children’s rights and this inspires them to stand up for their rights as well. We train them so they too can use the knowledge and train others and that is activism. So I believe children in these CDF clubs will grow up to be really awesome agents of change in the future.
Q: I love what you just said: ‘We train them, they train others and that is activism”! For our international readers and partners who might like to know about life in Tz, tell me what do you like to do on the weekends?
A: Okay so to be honest I sleep a lot, because I get up early during the week so the weekend is the perfect time for me to recuperate. I like chilling at the beach, it’s refreshing and gives me time to think and reflect and plan. In the evening I love to go for drinks and dance, dancing is very refreshing for me and fun, so yeah that’s a typical weekend for me.
Q: We should go dancing! Ooooohhh girl’s night out — office edition!