As the voting for this year’s ONE Award commences, we’re looking at the top four finalists who have made it to the final rounds! The ONE Africa Award celebrates African efforts aimed at achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the world’s blueprint for a better future. SDG targets range from halving extreme poverty, to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS and providing universal primary education.
The Msichana Initiative is a Tanzanian based NGO that advocates for girl’s empowerment, as well as policy and legal reforms. It works with both the government and grassroots communities to promote quality education and provide girls with a safe environment to study. It aims to “inspire adolescent girls and female youth to shape their stories and determine their future; stand up for their rights and speak up; and advocate for change of the social, political, and economic systems, which impede access to their rights.”
Msichana works to ensure not only that girls’ rights are protected and enforced, but also that girls are empowered to use their voice. In addition to this, Msichana uses community platforms, known as Msichana Cafe, to host safe spaces for members of the community to discuss the issues affecting the rights of girls.
Msichana trains young schoolgirls on leadership, entrepreneurship, and legal issues. Through their work, 30 out-of-school girls have become champions of change in their communities.
Msichana also works to change discriminatory laws in Tanzania. In 2016, the organisation won a landmark case, which saw amendments to Tanzanian legislation that had permitted girls to be married at the age of 14 with parental consent. As a result of their legal challenge, the High Court declared child marriage as unconstitutional.
Moreover, through working as part of a coalition of other NGOs, the organisation effectively lobbied for amendments to the HIV Act, which lowered the age of consent for HIV testing from 18 to 15. They continue to work on strengthening community engagement in regions where there are higher rates of child marriage.
Read more about the three other finalists in the running for this year’s ONE Africa Award and cast your vote here!