Charity Commission No. 1126029
Copyright © 2007 Women 4 Resources, All rights Reserved.
On my next visit, 5 years later, I renewed and deepened my friendship with a group of village women who took it upon themselves to show me what they felt I should know about their lives – everything from the rituals of childbirth and female initiation, to working in the fields, cooking, finding edible weeds and insects and making cooking pots and baskets. They told me their hopes, fears and frustrations and demonstrated their determination and ingenuity in trying to better the quality of life for their families. Gender and generational conflicts were made clear, but so was the strength of mutual support and cooperation.
From this privileged position of close friendship, I have now been able to move out
to talk with women’s leaders, village elders, teachers, church leaders, development
workers, agriculturalists, doctors, politicians, as well as street vendors, young
people and the women’s husbands. My research has encompassed society’s leaders and
the poorest of the poor and my current task is to make this wealth of material and
understanding accessible to a wider public via media, internet and print. Only with
this type of understanding can development policy and assistance be constructively
targeted so it can really make a difference. And only if women are included in the
picture can development ever hope to be successful. At a Women’s Day Event – the
first in the region – the statements came repeatedly and strongly – “Women are at
the heart of the family and “the keypost of development”. Educate women about hygiene,
health and HIV Aids and the whole family benefits; enable women to develop small
“Women’s Development is like a car without wheels: we are all aboard and in the driving seat, ready to go; all we lack are the wheels to make it possible.” By assisting them with those wheels so much could be achieved”.
The obstacles are large and various, but high on the list is people’s attitudes – the attitudes of men, the older generation, and women’s own low expectations. The aim of the day was to assert pride in what women do, in all their achievement, hard work and dedication; to show the power women have; and to affirm their key role in development.
The rallying call – “Men think we can’t but we can!”
Barbara Clark, one of our trustees, has recently spent two months in Tanzania continuing
her research into ‘women and development’ in the central region of the country. It
is part of a long-
When I first came here ten years ago I was struck by the bewildering mixture of common ground and difference between my life and that of the people I was meeting. By an accident of birth I was born into a British family and have enjoyed Western standards of living and opportunities. By a similar accident of birth my friends in Mpwapwa district were born into the daily struggle for survival with all the insecurities, privations and lack of opportunity of extreme poverty. And yet we share as much as we differ, our common humanity breaks through the seemingly unbridgeable divide of our differences. This mixture is what I hope to communicate.