In some of African societies, girls are considered inferior to boys, people who need help in most of the times and a source of income for the family through dowry paid at marriage.
Due to this, girls are not given priority in most of the opportunities that arise in the family, thus shuttering their future aspirations particularly the basic rights to acquiring education.This was however, not the case with Prof Joyce Kinabo, who beat all the odds, to fight from family to national level to become Associate Professor in one of the prestigious universities in the country.
"Since my youthful age, it has been my ambition to see that women are freed from the socio-cultural ties which retard their intellectual capability to get out of poverty chains," said Prof Joyce Kinabo, Associate Professor (Human Nutrition) at the Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA).
She said despite being main producers of nearly 60 per cent of food and cash crops in the rural areas constituting about 80 per cent of the labour force, the environment denies women to own wealth. Consequently, women have remained inferior in the society, failing to realize their goals in life.
One of the challenge stumbling women successes in most of societies, she says, is inferiority complex by some men who fail to support their women to grow professionally which could later put them at high positions in both public and private sector.She says, the society should change mindset and negative perceptions upon women who are in the limelight with high posts in both public and private sectors and stop branding them with bad names like unprincipled and prostitutes.
To address the wrong portrayal of women and societal perceptions, she said women from different sectors, who have excelled in life to become role models should expose themselves for others to emulate and learn how to struggle, a significant instrument that would liberate them from the snares of ignorance.
Prof Kinabo said for example, the spirit of struggling and competing with boys in academics started when she was young to the extent of becoming one of the best students at Dodoma Secondary School. This, she added, gave her confidence and assurance of succeeding in the future life.
After completing her ordinary secondary education, Joyce was selected to join the Kilakala Girls High School in 1975, after which she served the compulsory National Service the following year.In 1977, she joined the University of Dar es Salaam in 1977 where she did Agriculture in the first two years and later specialised food science in the last two years.
After graduating she was employed by the Tanzania Food and Nutrition Centre (TFNC) where she worked as food nutritionist."Apart from numerous challenges, struggle and confidence as well ignoring wrong societal notions that women are weak and could only succeed through favouritism, contributed greatly to my success today," said Prof Kinabo, a senior lecture of the Department of Food Science and Technology at the SUA.
She noted that apart from honouring her motherhood obligations, hard work and support from her family members were also important instruments for her achievements.Likewise, she stressed, good communication between her partner, herself and children was one of the significant mechanisms that added input to her accomplishments.
She said most women, particularly in rural areas failed to prosper because women and poverty were two inseparable components in most societies. Historically, women have been victims of poverty because of lack of ownership of properties and agricultural produce, yet they are the ones who bears almost all family obligations. The environment has put million of women behind development lines.
Some parents, she noted, are shuttering children aspirations, particularly girls' nurturing societal beliefs that they were born to be married and stay at home. Others goes to the extent of refusing to pay for school fees of their girl children so that they get prepared for marriage.
Bu she notes that in the globalised world, it is high time for parents to assume fully all their family responsibilities and ensure that children are brought up in right manner and are accorded equal rights irrespective of their gender. Although poverty at family level is blamed for the deteriorating ethics among children today as parents concentrate and put all their efforts in search for income for their subsistence, it is important for women to struggle to find their own income.
Broken family ties play significant role in the poor upbringing of children and general welfare of the family something that the society has been ignoring. Presently, each family nurtures individually contrary to the past where relatives and neighbours were engaged fully in the rearing of children.
It is a known fact that parents, teachers, siblings, elders and friends play an important role in child development but it has nowadays been left out. It has been said in various fora that the education system need to be reviewed to suit the current needs, like addressing specific human and society problems experienced today and not those of the past and be able to build capacity to encounter future challenges.
According to her, a good number of secondary school leavers at ordinary levels are unable to create or grab available life opportunities due to weaknesses in the education systems which concentrate on passing examinations. Ultimately, a form four and standard VII leavers swim at the same level of unemployment.
Prof Kinabo who in the last 30 years has dedicated her life in nutrition development believes that a healthy family is possible through women empowerment since they play fundamental role in the wellbeing of children and family at large.
After completing a Postgraduate Diploma in Maternal and Child Nutrition in Netherlands in 1982, Joyce's dream and future carrier was defined to be that of seeing health and nutrition related problems of Tanzanians coming to an end.
To ensure this, Prof Kinabo went for further studies in the United Kingdom (UK) where she pursued her Masters Degree in Food Science between 1983 and 1984. The following year, she was employed by SUA as Assistant Lecturer, teaching Nutrition.
To ensure she realises her dream of becoming a leader in the profession, Joyce pursued doctorate studies in Nutrition Physiology between 1987 and 1990 at Glasgow University, in Scotland.This opened a new chapter in her carrier with belief that through lecturing, her knowledge and skills would be trickled down to the whole community particularly the understand of the significance of human nutrition.
"I am pleased to note that today nutrition is at the top of development agenda and is being advocated at high government levels and the private sector," said Prof Kinabo, also an ambassador of the Partnership of Nutrition in Tanzania (PANITA).Joyce is married and has been blessed with a son and a daughter.