International Women’s Day is a highlight of the COCO calendar, as we could not have the impact that we do without the incredible women that we work with in East Africa. One of the biggest barriers to achieving equal access to education is gender equality, but huge strides are being made by our partner organisations.
Last year, our East Africa Director Oswin Mahundi spoke at COCO’s International Women’s Day event in Newcastle and was so inspired that he decided to hold a similar event run by Hoja Project in Songea this year.
In partnership with the International Women’s Peace Group, a celebratory event was held at Elimika Centre. Inspirational speeches from people from various backgrounds told a range of stories celebrating women with those in attendance.
Hoja Project’s Sex Education and Gender Empowerment Coordinator, Malaika Milinga, spoke about the important work that she is doing with young people to educate and empower on their rights and body changes. Malaika gave attendees information on an exciting new entrepreneurship idea - sandal making. Watch this space for more information on that!
Anjela, Vice-President and the girl with the highest grades at Mshangano Secondary School, one of our partner Schools for Life, spoke about her experiences as a teenage girl, why gender equality within schools is so important, and how ensuring this equality and supporting girls is helping the school become one of the best in the region.
The leader of Huruma Women’s Group, Candida Ndimbo, spoke on behalf of the women in her community. She spoke about how Sustainable Agriculture Training has transformed their lives from being widows with no way of providing for themselves and their families, to becomming a successful group of women supporting one another in lifting their community out of poverty.
Orester, a representative from the International Women’s Peace Group spoke about their organisation and their work locally and globally to support women.
Students from Newcastle University who are undertaking research in the region for their Masters degree spoke to the women about their experience and perspective as young females and why it is important to continue fighting for gender equality.
Finally, as this year’s theme was #EachForEqual, Oswin joined the conversation in speaking about his work with women and gave a male perspective on the gender divide.
The progress being made overseas to empower women and girls is incredible, however, there is still a long way to go before gender equality is achieved. Donate to our #PlantingFutures to support more women and keep reducing the gender gap.
"Its my first time to attend such an educational event. I am very much inspired by the talks I heard and the success stories from other women like Malaika and the group of women from Kigonsera. It is the time now us women and girls should change our attitude because we can do great things to change the world. Personally, I am now hoping to train in how to make shoes, that's my route to becoming a millionaire!"
- Mary, attendee