Shukuru paid tribute to the United Nation’s International Day of the Girl Child with the Shukuru girls in an interactive workshop that echoed the message broadcast throughout the world: Girls, you can fulfill your potential!
It was a memorable day for all of us, punctuated by the insightful contributions of the Shukuru girls.
The girls’ ability to articulate the significance of the day and the importance of promoting girls rights was an incredible testament to the acuity of their young years. When posed with the question ‘what are your rights?,’ one after the other, they raised their hands and with confidence claimed:
Haki ya kusikilizwa – the right to be listened to. Kupendwa – to be loved. Kusoma – to study. Kupata elimu – to get an education. Kupatiwa matibabu – to be provided access to medical care…
Like many girls across the developing world and in Tanzania, however, the girls in our program are denied many of the rights they identified above. The marginalization of girls economically, politically and socially affects their health, their security, and, ultimately, their ability to fulfill their potential.
Empowering girls to realize their full potential anchors every step of Shukuru’s work. And it was a message we highlighted throughout the day.
Intoning Malala Yousafzai’s Message
The girls listened to the story of Malala Yousafzai and her incredible bravery in the face of the Taliban to stand up for girls’ education. Malala’s story prompted a discussion about the importance of education.
“What is the importance of education to you?” I asked.
“It enables you to get a job and work outside the house.”
“It enables you to support your family and help others. “
“It helps you to be self-reliant.”
“Education is one of our rights.”
Yes. Education is a right – a fundamental right. It empowers girls to pave their own way, and to share their voice and their talents in ways that better their communities. So, when we champion the right of girls to an education, we make a priceless investment in a future that is better for all of us.
The girls then read in groups the inspiring biographies of girls and women in Africa. They presented to each other the accomplishments of those such as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (#Adichieparody), Susan Mashibe (#iMashibe), and Tegla Loroupe (#TeglaLoroupe).
As one of the Shukuru girls so perfectly articulated, learning about these women and their perseverance in following their dreams encourages girls everywhere “to be courageous just as they are.” What it also demonstrates to the girls is that
they can transcend gender discrimination by believing in and standing up for themselves, their worth and their ability.
It was a contagious message. Before breaking for lunch, we were jumping up and down and shouting with the Shukuru girls, “Sisi ni mas huj aa! Sisi ni mashujaa! Sisi ni mashujaa!” — We are heroes! We are heroes! We are heroes!
The Declaration of the Shukuru Girls
The workshop concluded in emboldened spirit as the Shukuru girls read aloud their own, collectively composed ‘Declaration of the Shukuru Girls.’
TAMKO LA WASICHANA WA SHUKURU
Sisi ni wascichana wa Shukuru na wananchi wa dunia.
Tunataka kuwa mashujaa.
Tunataka kupinga ubaguzi wa jinsia.
Tunapinga unyanyasaji. Tutafanikisha ndoto zetu.
Tunataka kuishi kwa usalama bila hofu.
Tutasoma vitabu kwa bidii.
Tunataka kujua haki zetu.
Tunataka kupata elimu bila kubaguliwa.
Tutafanikisha malengo ya kila mradi.
Tunapaswa kupendana ha kusaidiana.
Tutaendelea kubadilisha mawazo.
DECLARATION OF THE SHUKURU GIRLS
We are girls of Shukuru and citizens of the world.
We want to be heroes.
We want to combat gender discrimination.
We like to educate ourselves.
We will combat abuse. We will fulfill our dreams.
We will be self-reliant.
We want to live with security and without fear. We will study books diligently.
We want to know our rights.
We believe in ourselves.
We want to get an education without being discriminated against. We will accomplish the goals of each project. We are obligated to love each other and to help each other.
We will continue to exchange ideas.
The Declaration of the Shukuru Girls – the idea of which was inspired by the ‘Girl Declaration’ – stands as a reminder of the potential for transforming oppressive realities for girls and women around the world.
We need to work to transform the structural and social realities that impede girls from living out their potential and cultivate environments that permit young girls to dream big and envision life beyond the boundaries demarcated for them in Tanzania and beyond. To do so, we must put girls’ voices, wishes, and declarations front and center every step of the way.
Be brave. Seek change. Be part of the transformation.
Keep these girls rising (#GirlRising) with your support.