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 Female Genital mutilation in Tanzania.
Q- Lulu (Interviewer) A-Interviewee (Nancy and Amina )
The interview kicked off with our Girls empowerment officer, Amina Alliy
Q: Name a Tanzanian female social justice warrior you look up to and why?
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 know you hear stories of the amazing work she has done and you 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: (laughs) 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, these 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 coz 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 yeah 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 being the civil society organizations and other development partners and more international organizations 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 onwards 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, 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…
Q: Hey Nancy, so I’ll start of 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 realize their rights and the responsibility they have in pursuing what they believe to be right. We emphasise the importance of giving back to the community as well. 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: Yeah I love what you just said right now, ‘we train them, they train others and that is activism” well something like that! (laughs). 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!
A: OMG! yesssss!!!!!
Q: Okay okay..um right! So you know how the Tanzanian society believes it to be taboo for a woman to move out before marriage? Do you think your parents would be okay with you moving out?
A: It is taboo in most African families that a girl or woman should move out before marriage. For me, I don’t think that’s reasonable because the times have changed and we have come to realize that women should have a life before marriage. It’s not about the husband’s family and it is also not all about the husband. So somehow, somewhere a woman should get her life together before having to move in with someone and start a family. In my opinion, a woman particularly in Tz, should find herself and then, she can have a family or build a home with someone. I think as Tanzanian parents most of them still have the idea that women are just meant to be wives and can’t have a career and a woman is defined by her husband and not by her own self. I think the time has changed and parents should understand that a woman has a career to pursue and a life to lead and she can do that on her own before she gets a partner. Using myself as an example, I am about to move out soon and my parents aren’t exactly excited (particularly my father) but they know they have to get used to the idea coz one, my workplace is very far and two, it’s time for me to make my own mistakes and for me to know how to deal with problems on my own because you will not be there every day. So that’s what I told him (my father) and he didn’t give a straight answer like go forth have your own life! He was more like he will think about it but, he has no choice. I insisted and he gave in!
A: Good for you girl!
(We all fall into a fit of giggles)
Q: So Amina, what’s a really inspiring book you’ve recently read?
A: Oh, inspiring book I’ve read…. Danielle Steele – Blue. It is an inspiring and captivating tale that portrays sexual and gender-based violence, hope and justice I literally couldn’t put it down once I started it. The story is about a boy who run away from home. His Mom passed away and he was living with his aunt. His aunt had a boyfriend who abused him. The boyfriend was sexually harassing the boy and so he run away from home and became homeless. Then fate leads him to meet this lady who lost her family. She kept partaking in humanitarian causes to give her a sense and purpose in her life. So one day she meets Blue, the boy, on a bridge where he was currently living. It was winter, he was cold and the boy didn’t have a place to stay so she took him in, they bonded and later on she adopted the boy. The story is really beautiful, although I feel like I haven’t done it justice so you should definitely read it.
Q: Yeah there were totally no spoilers there at all!
(Both of us laugh)
Q: I definitely will check it out.
Q: Tell me ladies, who is your Man crush Monday this week?
A: That would be is my boss, Mr. Koshuma Mtengeti.
Q: Ohhhh we’re sucking up now hey, trying to get promoted!
(Both women laugh, trying to regain seriousness)
A: No, he is actually super cool and a down to earth human being. He is hilarious as well and pushes us to out fullest potential, I like the fact that he has dedicated his life to championing for women and girls rights, by ensuring they get empowered enough to speak up against violence – he’s really a pleasure to work with.
Q: Fair enough, so what would you say inspired you to want to work in an NGO?
A: I have always dreamt of working in an organization focused on helping others. I spoke to people about their experience of working in other sectors in the job market and I was inspired by someone who was working with a grassroots NGO at the time. I think it’s honestly part of the journey of my career to do so.
Q: What superpower do you wish you had?
A: ohhhh reading people’s minds or seeing the future or….
Q: You can only pick one! Lol
A: oh! Fine, I guess seeing the future.. to be specific – time travel.
Q : Well, thank you both. I hope we’ve given our readers a tiny glimpse into our lives in and out of the office. That’s all folks ( all laugh) Thank you for your time.
Words by Lulu