The Sustainable Development Goals in Tanzania
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a global call to action to end poverty, protect the earth’s environment and climate, and ensure that people everywhere can enjoy peace and prosperity. These are the goals the UN is working on in Tanzania:
05 May 2021
Midwives save more than just lives
Agnes Ndunguru is a midwife in Tanzania. She is also a holder of a Super Woman Award, presented to her by the then Vice President H.E. Samia Suluhu Hassan on International Women’s Day in 2019. She says she has witnessed many healthy and happy deliveries, but she also remembers the mothers and children who didn’t make it. She becomes visibly upset as she remembers a mother of three children who died during childbirth due to post-partum haemorrhaging. “As she took her last breath, she looked into my eyes and cried, ‘Midwife, my children, my children….’ That incident lives with me to this day.” Agnes says that there are many challenges that make her job difficult – stockouts of life-saving, maternal health medicines, power outages and a lack of the equipment needed to assist mothers and newborns during and after delivery. But Agnes says she was born a midwife and is dedicated to her job. Today – 5 May – we join hands with midwives in Tanzania and around the world to commemorate International Day of the Midwife. We celebrate nurse-midwives like Agnes, and the thousands of nurse-midwives like her in Tanzania, and thank them for their hard work, day in and day out, which is contributing to healthier families, more productive communities and to a more robust health system in Tanzania. This years’ commemorations – with the global theme “Follow the data: Invest in Midwives” – coincide with the launch of the State of the World’s Midwifery Report 2021, co-led by the International Confederation of Midwives, UNFPA and the World Health Organization (WHO), which brings the latest data on the return on investment in midwives. The evidence is clear: investment in midwives is a cost-effective approach to improving health outcomes for mothers and babies and reducing maternal and neonatal mortality and stillbirths. Data indicates that universal coverage of midwife-delivered interventions could avert 67 percent of maternal deaths, 64 percent of neonatal deaths and 65 percent of stillbirths, allowing 4·3 million lives around the globe to be saved annually by 2035. But it is not just about saving lives; midwives are the key to achieving Tanzania’s Vision 2025 and the ambitious sustainable development goals (SDGs), as emphasized by Feddy Mwanga, President, Tanzania Midwives Association (TAMA): “Midwives not only improve the chance of a safe pregnancy and delivery, but also provide the full continuum of care throughout women and adolescents’ lives. By doing so, they play a key role in the empowerment of women and building equitable, inclusive and sustainable societies.” As part of the day’s commemorations a symposium, “Midwives save lives: Invest in midwives” will take place in Dar-es-Salaam, led by TAMA, in collaboration with the School of Nursing at Muhimbili University College of Health Sciences and the Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children (MoHCDEC). UNFPA has provided technical support for the symposium, which is funded by WHO and Global Affairs Canada, who, under Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy, is supporting efforts in Tanzania to strengthen health systems and improve the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and girls, including a reduction in the numbers of preventable maternal, infant and child deaths. “Investment in midwives needs to include not just investment in their numbers, but investments in their education, ongoing training, regulation, and working environment,” said Pamela O’Donnell, High Commissioner of Canada in Tanzania. “If these investments are made they will be able to achieve their full life-saving, health-improving, system-strengthening potential.” UNFPA is the lead UN agency supporting efforts under the leadership of the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania, and in partnership with TAMA, to build a competent, well-trained and well-supported midwifery workforce. In addition to our technical support to improve midwifery education, training and regulations, we have also supported the renovation of maternity wards at 55 health facilities and the construction of 16 youth-friendly facilities. Facilities have also been equipped and staff are receiving on-going, on-the-job training to provide comprehensive reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health (RMNCAH) services, including emergency obstetric and newborn care. International Day of the Midwife is a time to express gratitude to Tanzania’s midwives and UNFPA extends its deepest appreciation to every midwife across the country for all that they do, every day. It is also an opportunity to look to the future – as the deadline for the SDGs draws ever nearer – and be guided by the data to determine what investments are needed in in Tanzania to enable nurse-midwives to realize their significant contributions towards achieving national and global development aspirations.
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17 March 2021
Giving girls in Tanzania a today and tomorrow
Glory* didn’t attend secondary school; she became pregnant at the age of 13 after completing her primary education. She says she felt worthless and her dreams for the future ‘flew away’. She wasn’t aware of any of the dangers of giving birth at such a young age, but she knew all too well about the stigma surrounding early pregnancy and that she would not be able to continue going to school. Every day in developing countries, 20,000 girls under the age of 18 give birth. This amounts to 7.3 million births a year. And if all pregnancies are included, not just births, the number of adolescent pregnancies is much higher. In Tanzania, teenage pregnancy has increased over the last decade, with nearly one in four girls becoming pregnant or giving birth to their first child by the age of 18 – with wide rural and urban and regional disparities. Adolescent pregnancy is generally not the result of a deliberate choice – girls often have little or no say over decisions affecting their bodies and lives – and early childbirth is a consequence – as is the case for Glory – of inequalities; of peer and social pressures and a lack of access to age-appropriate sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights education, information and services. UNFPA is working to address these issues in Tanzania by focusing on the protection and fulfilment of girls’ rights, including supporting and advocating for comprehensive sexuality education – in a context where there are still taboos and barriers to discussions around young people’s sexual and reproductive health – and expanding access to sexual and reproductive health care and information at adolescent-friendly health corners. In Shinyanga, where Glory lives, UNFPA is supporting Adolescent Girls Clubs – which target some of the furthest behind and vulnerable adolescent girls, building their knowledge, skills, self-confidence, and social networks and supporting them to challenge existing gender inequities and realize a different tomorrow – a more equal future. It’s been five months now since Glory was invited to join the Adolescent Girls Club in Shilela, Msalala district council, Shinyanga, by her village leader – one of five such clubs supporting 124 out-of-school girls with life skills and entrepreneurship training in the region through the UNFPA-UN Women Joint Programme funded by the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA). Glory, who is now on a vocational training course, says that she has learnt many things at the club including that she has the right to make decisions about her body and that no one should force her into having unwanted or unprotected sex. But the most important thing she has learnt, she says, is self-worth and confidence. She now feels that she has a chance to compete as an equal with her friends who went to secondary school. Glory – and her peers at the girls club – hope for a future where girls can pursue their goals and remain in school and be treated as equals to boys and men in the community. They are aware of the deeply-rooted social and cultural norms that could challenge their dreams, but they are optimistic. Glory says her family have changed their attitudes, particularly her father, and are now supportive of her younger sister’s ambition to become a midwife; she hears similar encouraging stories from her friends at the girls’ clubs. They are hopeful that this change will be seen in every household in their village, and in nearby villages and in the villages next to these, and beyond. The future that Glory and her friends – and many like them in Tanzania – are working so hard to realize is the same future that UNFPA Tanzania wants for all women and girls and young people – a future of equal opportunities and healthy, independent choices. As we move through the Decade of Action for Sustainable Development, UNFPA Tanzania will continue to put young people – adolescent girls and boys – at the centre of efforts to achieve gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls, and continue to support activities like Adolescent Girls Clubs that give girls like Glory the opportunity to realize their potential, as well as the confidence to speak up and speak out. * Name has been changed.  Tanzania Demographic and Health Survey 2015/16.
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06 March 2021
Women supporting women through Knowledge Centres in Shinyanga
Milka says she first visited the Knowledge Centre in her village Malito, in Msalala District, Shinyanga Region, Tanzania, because she is naturally curious and likes to know what is going on in her community! What she has learnt there since, she says, together with the support she receives from the community leader/animator and fellow women members, has changed and reshaped her outlook on life particularly her understanding of gender-based violence (GBV) and the different forms it can take. “I personally accepted the behaviour of my husband selling the harvest that we had worked so hard together to produce. Many a time he would go into town and come back home with empty pockets several days later,” says Milka. Loyce tells a similar story. She was selected as one of the animators at the Knowledge Centre and now leads outreach activities where she educates and provides information on women and girl’s rights. She passionately believes that her own daughter and others deserve a better future, but admits that the thought of gender equality at times seems a distant dream. “Sometimes I think it [gender equality] is impossible, but at the Knowledge Centre you meet other people with similar thoughts and I believe that if we support each other, together we can make it happen.” The Knowledge Centre in Malito is one of two established in Shinyanga Region under the three-year Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) funded UNFPA-UN Women Joint Programme. Activities under the project aim to advance gender equality efforts and ensure that rural women and girls in Ikungi District, Singida Region, and Msasala, Shinyanga, are not left behind. Milka explains that the centre provides a safe community space where women discuss many things about GBV and harmful practices, gender equality, women’s rights, the importance of eliminating discrimination against girls as well as participating in leadership and political activities. Loyce is passionate about women and girls’ rights, she says it has been her struggle for some time, and she jumped at the chance to be a leader at the Knowledge Centre. She is also a member of the Ward Children and Women’s Protection Committee - seven ward-level and 25 village-level protection committees have been set up in the Msalala district council of Shinyanga under the project to date - where she has received training to prevent and respond to violence against women and girls. She recalls the story of her neighbour’s daughter, aged 13, who was going to be married after school closed for the holidays. The daughter’s mother had been attending sessions at the knowledge centre and knew about the harmful impacts of child marriage. She asked Loyce to come with her to speak with her husband; the proposal to marry the daughter was rejected the same day. Loyce also personally knows a number of other girls whose families have rejected marriage proposals because they now understand the importance and right of their daughters, like their sons, to continue their education. Although it is early days the centre only opened in October 2020 Loyce says these are promising signs, Milka is similarly optimistic. She once dreamed of becoming a nurse but was married at an early age, and it is this that gives her the energy to continue educating her community. “I don't want to just come and listen at the centre and go back home”, Milka asserts, “I want women and girls to have opportunities. I don’t wish for them to go through the pains and challenges I went through.” Loyce nods in agreement and says she too is working day and night to support women and girls to protect and claim their rights. Women in Tanzania and of the world want and deserve an equal future, free from stigma, stereotypes and violence; a future that’s sustainable, peaceful, with equal rights and opportunities for all. To get us there, the world needs women like Loyce and Milka. Today as we commemorate International Women’s Day, with its theme “Women in Leadership: Achieving an Equal Future”, UNFPA celebrates the accomplishments of Loyce and Milka and the tremendous efforts of many other women and girls in Tanzania who are committed to shaping a better future. As we advance through the Decade of Delivery for Sustainable Development, UNFPA will continue to support women and girls as leaders, change-makers and role models in their families and communities, and support investments in services and initiatives that protect and uphold their rights so that together we can deliver on our 2030 vision of a gender-equal world.  UNFPA Tanzania has also supported the establishment of 10 knowledge centres in five regions of Tanzania – Kigoma, Mara, Tanga, Dodoma, Manyara.
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