#16Days: Amina Alliy on gender-based violence in Tanzania

To mark 16 Days of Activism, we're shining a spotlight on inspiration activists from around the world. We caught up with Amina Alliy from Children's Dignity Forum Tanzania (CDF) to hear about the situation facing women and girls in her country.

What kind of activism work are you involved in?

I work at Children’s Dignity Forum as a youth volunteer and work in media and advocacy. As well as that I am a panellist for the DFID Youth Advisory Panel and I also run gender equality workshops around the He For She Campaign in universities.

Amina Alliy

Activism is being able to stand for what is right. I have been doing social media activism for the past three years and it has been a success in terms of raising awareness of female genital mutilation (FGM) and child marriage but there are still challenges like how you get backlashes from people who inbox me saying…  “you know, you’re African and should embrace African culture”.

It’s hard to explain because they have a valid point - it is important to embrace our culture - but what I try to remind them is that we need to embrace the culture and cultural practices that are good, and forgo the others

As Africa we need to come to a waking point, where we leave gender-based violence and practices that undermine women behind and move forward, joining with other countries around the world in promoting gender equality.

What sort of challenges face gender-based violence activists?
There’s a patriarchal system that’s been in place for such a long time, it becomes hard for women to be able to stand up for themselves

The state of gender-based violence is very high; we have a very high prevalence of child marriage in areas such as Mara, as well as in northern parts of Tanzania, and also FGM particularly in Mara region, where girls are forced into getting cut and it’s seen as a rite of passage from childhood to womanhood.

Most of the time women do not have the decision making power. There’s a patriarchal system that’s been in place for such a long time, it becomes hard for women to be able to stand up for themselves

It is hard because these harmful traditional practices have been here for such a long time, it’s hard to move from a culture that was there for a thousand years to an abrupt stop { in these practices} so it is going to take some time.

What sort of progress are you seeing?

Fortunately there have been movements to try and empower women in the community to tackle gender-based violence. Recently we’ve had great support from the government; they have been trying to an extent. We work with social welfare officers, teachers in schools and government officials and they have been very supportive in this fight.

Since 1998 to 2010 statistics have shown that FGM has declined in some regions and that is all thanks to civil society, government and many other organisations in Tanzania who fight for the rights of women.

What needs to happen to improve the situation for women and girls?
I think African countries need to decide. We need to decide that we want change and we need to not just say this to please the international arena, but we need to want it.

I think African countries need to decide. We need to decide that we want change and we need to not just say this to please the international arena, but we need to want it. We need to want to see our women and girls empowered. We need to want to see our girls and women develop, we need to want change. That way, we can break the taboos and change our lives.

See the rest of our #16Days activist spotlight series here.


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