Hope for Girls and Women (Matumaini kwa Wasichana na Wanawake in Swahili) was founded by the Tanzanian activist Rhobi Samwelly in 2017. Rhobi’s personal experience of being forced to undergo female genital mutilation (FGM) as a child inspired her lifelong commitment to fight for the rights of girls and women. Our organisation runs two safe houses in the Butiama and Serengeti Districts of the Mara Region of Tanzania, which shelter and support those fleeing FGM, child marriage, and other forms of gender based violence.
Gender based violence continues to be a serious problem in the Mara Region of Tanzania. This region has the highest rate of spousal violence in the country, affecting 78% of married women. Over 50% of adult women were married by age 18 and 32% have undergone FGM, while only 21% have ever attended secondary education. Governmental services to help these girls and women are limited.
We offer our safe house residents free classes in vocational training, such as tailoring and computer skills. Through this training we support women’s entrepreneurship. Women can use their new skills to generate much needed income, becoming valued providers for their families while also increasing their independence, and making them less vulnerable to forced marriage and FGM.
We also provide safe house residents with free medical exams and HIV testing. One key objective of our organization is to improve the health of girls and women.
Our work has been featured in Tanzania’s Daily News, the BBC, Guardian, and Telegraph. Rhobi’s work is also the focus of Canadian filmmaker Giselle Portenier’s new documentary In the Name of Your Daughter. We rely on donations to continue our work.