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Healthy moms and safe girls

Maternal health in Tanzania
The Because I am a Girl Project is improving gender inequality.

In Tanzania, more than 50% of births occur at home without the help of skilled birth attendants, which contributes to high maternal and infant mortality rates. Deeply entrenched gender roles take an additional toll on the health of mothers and young children, with women often expected to carry out backbreaking labour like fetching water, even when they are heavily pregnant or have just given birth.

But with your help, we’ve been working with communities in Tanzania to change this picture. We’ve helped transform community centers into clinics and trained over 230 local people to deliver maternal and infant health services to thousands of women and children.

Widespread outreach is also under way with both men and women to engage them on critical issues like family planning, reproductive health, life skills and gender equality.

“We saw a very good presentation by a woman who visited our club,” says Alex, a young father attending a training session at a local “daddies’ club.”

“She said so many things that men can do to support our partners, including assisting with the household chores and supporting them through pregnancy, labour, delivery and after. As men, we need to do this.”

Gender-based violence in Colombia

Gender-based violence is a major issue in Colombia, which has high rates of rape and domestic abuse, especially among the millions of girls and women who have been displaced by the country’s long-running armed conflict. This is often attributed to pervasive attitudes in Colombia about women as subordinate to men, belonging in the home, or even inviting sexual assault.

Challenging gender attitudes

To change attitudes, we’ve helped communities hold gender awareness sessions for over 350 young men and women to explore views that enable (and put an end to) gender-based violence.

We’ve also supported two community outreach initiatives using a combination of lectures, theatre, and creative activities for youth to look at issues related to power relationships, divisions of labour and biases based on gender.

Shedding light on deeply held but often unexamined beliefs about gender inequality is the first step toward change, and by empowering girls and young women through our programs, we’re giving them a chance to use their voices and leadership for a cause that is vital to them and to their country’s peace and prosperity.

Supporting justice for girls and women

While Colombia has good laws in place to protect girls and women against gender-based violence, in practice, there are many reasons why this doesn’t happen. One of them is that women are not adequately supported when they come forward to report crimes.

To assist, we’ve helped a local community centre create a safe haven for women who have been victims of violent crime – a place where they can file a report and get back on their feet, while taking care of their children. The centre includes a specialized play space for children, complete with trained care givers, toys and learning materials.

Providing these supports is critical to ensuring that more women come forward to report violence so that it does not go unpunished. It’s an important step to de-normalizing gender-based violence in Colombian society and making sure that the laws that do exist are effectively enforced.

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