On the 22nd of June, 2018 in the Conference Hall of ESRF: Policy makers, researchers and representatives from embassies, non-governmental- and civil society organizations gathered to witness the dissemination of a study on how to empower adolescent girls in terms of their health, education and livelihoods. The guest of honor was the Assistant Director for Gender from the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, Ms. Mboni Mgaza. The Norwegian Ambassador Hanne-Marie as well as ESRF’s executive Director Dr. Tausi Kida also gave opening speeches.
The study, which lasted for five years from 2013 – 2018 was partly financed by the Norwegian Embassy in Dar es Salaam, and based on a programme designed and implemented by Femina Hip, the largest youth-focused civil society multimedia platform in the country. Femina Hip enrolled the program which was offered to 6000 girls in secondary schools all over the country. The girls were randomly offered an entrepreneurship programme, a reproductive health programme, both programmes or no programme at all. The researchers then investigated the effects of the programmes through a randomized control trial method.
Kjetil Bjorvatn, one of the researchers from NHH, came all the way from Norway to present the findings. He showed that targeting girls before marriage is very successful when it comes to enhancing their economic opportunities in the long-term. The reproductive health programme made girls seek more stable relationships and had some positive effects on their reproductive health, i.e. by reducing sexually transmitted diseases.
Speaking during the event, the Norwegian Ambassador to Tanzania, Ms. Hanne-Marie Kaarstad, highlighted the importance of empowering adolescent girls. She stated that “empowering women is not only the right thing to do, it is the smart thing to do” referring to how supporting women’s position in Norway has contributed more to our country’s wealth than our oil and gas resources since the 70’s.
Supporting the study is in line with Norway’s long-standing commitment to improve women’s position in society in both our domestic and foreign policies. A commitment we honor through i.e. addressing gender equality as a cross-cutting issue in our development policy. Of Norway’s bilateral aid and the earmarked funding for multilateral organizations, around 30 percent has women’s rights and gender equality as a main or significant objective. Tanzania is one of the largest recipient of programs with gender equality in focus. For example, four Million dollars of Norway’s support to the United Nations Development Assistance Plan – UNDAP II – are earmarked to support female entrepreneurs as well as activities that are part of the National Action Plan to end Violence against Women and Children (NAP – VAWC).
In the Ambassador’s statement, she further emphasized the important role research has in our long-term support of women’s rights across the globe: “To ensure that our efforts makes the intended impact, we need to make knowledge-based decisions. Therefore, research is muhimu sana.” She lauded the institutions for the joint study that has created new knowledge with potential to vitally impact women’s empowerment in Tanzania.