SASA! Empowering the community

 

UN DESA’s Under-Secretary-General Mr. Wu Hongbo pointed out the following when talking about the successful adoption of the 17 sustainable development goals by nations, “…ownership is very important,” Mr. Wu said. “Because the Member States got involved in the negotiations, right from the beginning, it’s their agenda.” 

Raising Voices and Cedar Tanzania encourage Kamanga village to take ownership of the implementation of the SASA! program, in the hope that it has more success in reshaping the social norms that violate one of UN's sustainable development goals, Gender Equality.

Engaging a critical mass of people across all levels of society, is one way that Raising Voices tries to ensure that the SASA! ideology is “owned” by the communities that they work alongside. One such “critical mass of people” that Raising Voices encourages to get involved, are the community members that are chosen and trained in the SASA! methodology to become SASA! ambassadors or Community Activists, (CAs). They are men and women, both young and old, who are chosen to reflect the community that they come from, in order to engage with their own demographic more effectively. 

CAs initiate discussions about imbalances of power, where ever they are and with whomever they are with. Cedar Tanzania sees a few of its SASA! Community Activists initiating discussions with villagers under trees during their break times from work, or at Kamanga village market, or near the make shift cafés near the ferry ports.  These bold CAs often hold up laminated SASA! posters to prompt the discussions with the small crowds that often gather. Cedar Tanzania encourages them to not make judgments about the audiences’ differing views, but instead encourage the CAs to let every one’s view be heard.

As part of the ‘Start’ phase of SASA! the community members were asked to think about how violence against women and HIV/AIDS are interconnected issues and how fostering the power within themselves can help to address these issues. Now as part of the ‘Awareness’ phase the community Activists are raising awareness about how their communities often accept men’s use of power over women, fueling the dual pandemics of violence against women and HIV/AIDS.

No such public discussion was more vibrant than the community event that was held in February in Kamanga village.  With the encouragement of the Cedar Tanzania SASA! leadership team, the Community Activists ‘owned’  the event. They were the ones on the microphones announcing the order of events, they were the ones who led the small discussion groups around the field, they were the ones who participated in the drama sketches, which showed some of the injustices that women and girls suffer under men who use their power over them and how this can often have devastating consequences for the women and girls themselves and for their families.

The ownership of the event by the Community Activists, the involvement of the village leadership and the Chairman, the presence of such a diversity of age groups amongst the men and women in the audience, speak loudly of the progress that SASA! is making in the village of of Kamanga. 

Join us and help us continue to make a difference, in the lives of women and girls, in Kamanga.