Even as a child growing up in Mtakuja II, Anthony Migeka was aware of gender inequality. At an early age, he saw that girls and women in most African communities were often disregarded and had far fewer privileges than men in almost every area of life. In thinking about why this was, Anthony would come to learn that beyond harmful cultural practices and traditions, poverty, and ignorance kept girls and women from advancing in life. He noted that girls often faced the risk of forced marriages early on in their lives, early pregnancies that would deprive them of their rights to education and exclusion from having a voice in community matters and decision making bodies- places where their voices were needed.
As he moved from secondary school to university, he consulted his heart and asked himself, “Who should I help? What are the most pressing challenges facing my community?” The answer came swiftly and inspired him to develop “Free Girls from Gender-based Violence”, a project designed to create awareness and educate girls and women about gender issues so that they would become ambassadors within their own families and communities capable of addressing gender-based violence.
“As a gender advocate, changemaker, social inclusion advocate and leader for sustainable community, I pledge to bring about positive changes, facilitate gender equality, reduce inequalities and make sure girls and women understand their potential, trust that they are included and invited to participate in community opportunities so that we build sustainable communities,” said Anthony.
In order to promote gender awareness, instill this knowledge in the minds of girls and boys, and help these youth to develop their potential for serving their communities, Anthony knew he would need support. That’s when he reached out toThe Pollination Project.
“The Pollination Project is the first organization to trust in me and has so far introduced me to a global community of changemakers with whom I keep learning, sharing success and honing my leadership and career development. Nothing could have happened without a grant from TPP to facilitate my actions. We need firm and strong organizations like TPP if we are to make our voices heard and bear fruits that every person can cherish. Thank you so much TPP for your support,” Anthony shared, full of joy.
The project has reached more than three public schools in Sengerema, Tanzania. After securing permits from government officials and community leaders, Anthony worked with volunteers to present the program. The feedback from their enthusiastic audiences has been exceptionally positive. When girls and boys in both the Nyamtelela secondary school and Kilabela secondary school expressed their concerns about the gender violence they’d witnessed in their respective communities, Anthony was able to address them through training designed to challenge the thinking about these situations. To date, he and his volunteers have reached 689 girls in one school and 413 in another training. Anthony and his team provided many copies of articles about GBV violence to the students, so that they would be able to continue reading and learning after the training. In spreading the knowledge, skills and awareness among the students, the information will continue to ripple out which is paramount in transforming society.
From the teachers to the girls and boys who participated in the training, everyone felt a deep sense of appreciation for all that Anthony has shared with them.
“We thank you for the education and awareness you have given to us. Initially I thought GBV involved physical harm like beating, I didn’t know we can face psychological violence, biological … and that we’ve always been witnessing this – my friends being abused by boys while fetching water. I promise to be your ambassador fighting for GBV. Once you come again, I can share lots of changes that I will have made in this area” said a form 4 student from the Nyamtelela secondary school.
It’s clear that the work Anthony and his volunteers are doing has the power to change and perhaps, eradicate gender-based violence for this generation and those to come.