by Nebila Abdulmelik

Today, March 8th marks International Women’s Day. This day is marked in various ways around the globe. Here in Tanzania, and particularly in Siha District, Tanzania, NAFGEM or Network Against Female Genital Mutilation, supported by SOAWR organized a community march and celebration which we were honored to be a part of. This was in solidarity with the Africa UNiTE Campaign to bring an end to Violence Against Women and in the margins of the Mt. Kilimanjaro Climb taking place from March 5-9, 2012.

About 500 were in attendance, including school children, former circumcisors, activists, government officials, and well-wishers. Ages ranged from 3 to 83. Take a look at a brief video of the march:

Students presented pictoral presentations of what they consider VAW to be. Some depicted their mothers being beaten by their fathers. Others depicted the inequality of workload, depicting a mother carrying a hoe, her baby, food on her head while the husband walks idly by. Some shared their views of VAW in writing. Some of the issues mentioned include early marriage, FGM, unwanted sexual advances, and being pulled out of school as that would kill their dreams of becoming the president!

Women who were former practicioners/circumcisers of girls were also present to show their solidarity with bringing an end to the practice of FGM. Most have now begun small-scale businesses which include arts and crafts to sustain themselves.

The District Commissioner, Anna Rose Nyamubi was on hand to offer support to the women in her constituency and renew her commitment to them. Also present was a male member of Parliament representing the Siha District, and urging community members not to wait for opportunities to be given to them, but rather to grab opportunities as they come. He also reaffirmed his commitment to bring  forth and champion issues such as land and property inheritance and other VAW issues affecting the women in the district in Parliament.

Women’s groups and students performed skits, sang songs, recited poetry, and made statements urging an end to all forms of  discrimination and VAW/G. The message came out loud and clear:

“Let’s UNiTE to bring an end to VAW/G!”

For pictures from this event, please go to: FEMNET's Facebook Page

Nebila Abdulmelik is the Associate Advocacy Officer at FEMNET. She can be reached at prog-associate@femnet.or.ke. Connect with her on twitter @aliben86 or aliben86.wordpress.com

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