columnBy Joyce Kabigi
Women play a big role in our societies. Almost everything is done by women for example raising children cooking and other duties, so to educate them is worth it and it is not wastage of money and time as clamed by some parties.
United Nations is among institutions that recognizes importance of women and strives to empower and supports them. Last year, UN's women department sent six women from Mtwara and Lindi Districts to India for solar electrification engineering training.The training was supported by the Ministry of Community Development Gender and Children in collaboration with UN Women and ITEC scholarships from Indian government.
The trainings took place at Barefoot College as part of India technical assistance to Tanzania especially to promote the rural women 'Rural Women Light Up Africa' which Tanzania is now part of.Speaking in Dar es Salaam recently when receiving the trainees from India after completion of their six months training in India, the UN Women Programme Officer Salome Anyoti said, it was their pleasure to help women and empower them.
"UN Women will always support women especially the rural ones because it seems they are forgotten. We usually remember women in urban areas but we need to go to the interior areas to support and give them a hand," said Anyoti. The UN Women as part of UN delivering as one in Tanzania under the Environment Programme Working Group is supporting economic empowerment of women, and the training at Barefoot College targets women in remote areas to be able to gain skills that will help them in tapping opportunities to enhance their economic engagement for sustainable livelihood.
According to the source, at the end of six months, the trainees graduate as Barefoot solar engineers and go back to their respective villages and electrify their households using solar lighting units and assume the responsibility of repairing and maintenance for a minimum of five years.
Gender inequalities remain deeply entrenched in every society, women lack access to decent work and face occupational segregation and gender wage gaps. They are too often denied access to basic education and health care, not only in our country but in many parts of the world women suffer violence and discrimination.Looking at this, Anyoki accounts, that is why UN Women wants to give women better life by giving them skills since women are more productive in villages, so by educating them it means educating the whole society. Women usually apply gained education or skills to benefit their families and the society at large.
It operates with accordance of its mission and vision of elimination of discrimination against women and girls, empowering girls and women, achievement of equality between women and men as partners and beneficiaries of development, human rights, humanitarian action peace and security.On behalf of the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Community Development, Gender and Children the Assistant Director in the Women Department Judy Kazenga said, they are preparing a Memorandum of Understanding with view to establish the training institute in Mtwara.
"The aim of setting up the institute in Mtwara is to avoid sending more women to India for the training because we send a few number of them while they are a lot of women in the country that need to benefit with these skills. Therefore establishment of the training institute will help to get a good number of skilled women in Mtwara and other parts of Tanzania," said Kazenga
The Ministry is there to support and empower women and girls so as to eliminate gender discrimination and to achieve equality between men and women and observe human rights to all people, regardless of their gender, she added. She also noted that, the solar electrification engineering was one of many training that the institution offers noting that many other skills would also be introduced at Mtwara institute.
She said the Ministry will continue to support women with all available resources and skills so as to empower them economically and fight poverty. And the trained six women will share their knowledge with other women at Mtwara institute as well as their localities. One of the trainees, Mariam Luwongo said, they learnt a lot from India and they feel that they are not the same because what they learnt will be of much help not only to their families but to the whole community.
"We would like to thank UN women department, the Ministry and the government of India for their support and we hope this will be a challenge to other women who want changes and want to depart from poverty," said Luwongo.Another trainee Arafa Halfan said they were happy with the new skills and that they would deploy them in helping the communities around them so that the whole community would benefit from the training.
Halfan said despite the language barrier, they were practically taught and they understood the subjects very well thanking the Barefoot College for their cooperation and assistance until they graduated.
"We had a language problem but we thank the college for it tried to help us to understand the subjects through practical and we understood everything," said Halfan with a huge smile on her face. Other trainees who graduated from the Indian college were Esha Mwanga, Fatima Mzungu, Amina Nachingulu, and Sofia Mnandi. Two of them were from Mtwara and four from Lindi District.
UN Women in Tanzania under United Nations supports the nation through implementation of national priorities in areas of governance, social protection, economic empowerment and environment.