Women shoulder a disproportionately large share of disease within Tanzania, with gender inequity, neglected maternal health, and sexual-based violence all acting as major obstacles to good health. As of 2014, Tanzania had failed to achieve the 5th MDG (Millennium Development Goals): to reduce the maternal mortality ratio by 75% between 1990 and 2015. Moreover, although Tanzania was on track to achieve MDG 3 (gender equality in primary education) in 2014, it lags behind in the Gender Inequality Index, ranking 125 out of 155 countries.
In response, CDI’s Health Project decided to facilitate a series of Women’s Health Workshops within the informal settlement of Vingunguti in Dar es Salaam. Initially, we conducted focus groups with Community Health Workers, to ensure that our proposed workshops would effectively meet the needs of the community. The main issues identified primarily revolved around UTIs, contraception, breast and cervical cancer, and maternal health. The interviews which were later conducted at the Buguruni Health Centre confirmed these findings, therefore providing a clear curriculum around which to structure the workshops.
Good health is both a cause and a consequence of socioeconomic development. Although only part of a wider set of amelioration initiatives that need to be taken, CDI are focussing upon empowerment and education as methods with which to advance the quality of women’s health in Dar es Salaam. Women can be major agents for change, but are routinely denied access to the most basic tenets of information regarding their own health. Until such deficiencies are accounted for, women will continue to bear the brunt of weak health systems and inadequate infrastructures. As a WHO report into Tanzanian women’s health concluded, ‘the preferences and experiences of women should […] inform health system design.’ Through the Health Project’s workshops, CDI hopes to make a positive change that will liberate women, enabling them to take an active stance in their bodily choices and decisions.