Women in Politics

Many in the United States would say that in order for historically oppressed groups to gain equal status, they must be part of the conversation and have a seat at the table. As a result, policies will change and progress will be made. Political empowerment is a  game-changer for women, and because of this, we’re seeing an upswell of women running for elected office in the United States.

A similar narrative is playing out in Tanzania. We recently surveyed 33 of our Community Health Educators (CHEs) who are part of our Improving Women’s Health Program and found that 85% currently hold a government position and 2/3 have increased their involvement in government or community organizations since they entered the program. They hold these positions in addition to their work as CHEs. (You can see a full list of the women and the positions they hold here.) We celebrate this development! Here’s a look at five of the Community Health Educator’s and the positions they hold: Continue reading

Meet Four of the Most Empowered Women in Tanzania

If you’ve followed Empower Tanzania for long, you know that we provide  tremendous opportunities to advance the rights of women across the globe. Why? Because we believe it’s important to empower women and to lift one another up. Projects that benefit women are crucial and we’re grateful to our staff, program managers, and donors who are exceedingly generous with their time and resources. We’ve spent nearly a decade educating and empowering women across the Same District of rural Tanzania. Allow us to introduce you to four of the most empowered!


Nietiwe is a successful farmer in our Integrated Farming Program. Her training, skills, and hard work pays for her four children’s school fees, healthy food for her family, and even a motorcycle to use to gather fresh grass for her livestock!

Continue reading

How do we empower women?

We’re currently in the midst of a Mother’s Day campaign in which we’re working hard to raise $3,000 for our women’s empowerment programming through the sale of some pretty beautiful jewelry made in Tanzania. Because of our generous business sponsor, Onion Grove Mercantile, we’re offering supporters the chance to donate $30, receive a pair of earrings, and be assured that their money will go toward the women of rural Tanzania. Continue reading

Notes from the field…

Note: We often ask our volunteers and supporters who travel to Tanzania and observe the work we do to share a bit about their experience. This reflection comes from Frances Murray Taylor who traveled to Tanzania as part of a small cohort in March of 2017.

I observed the training sessions for the women of the Improving Women’s Health Program. It was uplifting to see the more than 30 women who came, some with young children, to attend the training sessions. As each woman was introduced to the group of us representing Empower Tanzania, she gave us a snapshot version of the progress made in her community. The areas mentioned included family planning, money management, improved health, and enabling programs in the schools. I was told that two years ago, about half of the women were involved in community organizations but today more than three quarters raised their hands when asked how many were ward councilors in their communities. Because of this effort, almost 700,000 people had attended the training sessions they conducted using the information that they had learned. Malaria has dropped, more babies are being vaccinated, and hand washing has become a priority. Continue reading

Behind the Scenes with ETI

Empower Tanzania has long been employing technology to deliver vital health information to those living in rural Tanzania. This month, staff and volunteers are hard at work on five new videos to be released next month in Same District and Kagera Region. The reach of these videos is wide — each will serve 630,000 people by using 141 trained Community Health Educators who will present each video 12 times per month! Here are a few behind-the-scenes highlights of our most recent video shoot:

THE WRITER: ETI Program Director Dr. Jeff Carithers wrote the scripts for five new videos being created in a new partnership with World Vision Tanzania to provide public health education focusing on pregnant women and children under two-years-old in northern Tanzania. Scripts are translated into Swahili and delivered by our actors.

THE VIDEOGRAPHER: Mark Burnham, videographer for Unity Point Health, shot the videos. We are grateful to Unity Point and Iowa Methodist Medical Center for allowing Empower Tanzania to use Mark and his studio for filming!

Mark Burnham films as the actors run through the scene prompted with a script shown on an iPad, which serves as telepromptor.

Continue reading

Health Programs Update: Tackling a Taboo

Empower Tanzania works to build safe environments for young women to flourish. This includes allowing them the access to resources they need to be successful. Due to a generous donation from the Des Moines-based group named Half the Sky, we have been able to expand our programs in meaningful, exciting, and synergetic ways!


In Tanzania, it is taboo to discuss menstruation, urinary tract health, and menstrual hygiene. When a girl begins puberty, she often don’t understand what is happening to her body and is unsure of how to handle it properly. Disposable menstrual pads are expensive and, because of the expense, household rags are commonly used instead. These rags are ineffective and often lead to leakage and embarrassment. Frequent school absences and high dropout rates among girls often follow. In hopes of remedying this problem, Empower Tanzania has partnered with Days for Girls, an organization working in 100 countries that provides training on the production of reusable menstrual pads. This is an effective and inexpensive alternative to the more commonly used rags, leaves, moss, or disposable pads. Continue reading

IWHP Fights Malaria

The Improving Women’s Health Program (aka IWHP for you acronym lovers out there) will blow your mind with its impact on the battle with Malaria in Tanzania.  Truly AMAZING!

Malaria is a disease that kills a child every 30 seconds in Tanzania. But malaria can be prevented—just by using treated mosquito nets. The Improving Women’s Health Program (IWHP) is doing its part by educating people in Same District about what to do. Continue reading

Improving Women’s Health

We at Empower Tanzania are CRAZY about stories!  Statistics are an important part of what we do, but the truth is, we are completely motivated by the relationships we build, and the stories of the people whose lives are changed by the work we do together.  It’s why we get up in the morning.

The following is a letter from Dr. Jeff Carithers, and Empower Tanzania volunteer, and coordinator of the VERY successful Improving Women’s Health Program.  I loved reading it, so I thought I’d pass it along.  Enjoy!

Sheri Krumm
Development Coordinator
Empower Tanzania

Jeff seems to find fun in everything he does!

Jeff seems to find fun in everything he does!

Habari yako! (how’s it going?)

I just returned from my fifth trip to Tanzania this year, spending a total of more than 70 days there.  Ali is starting to grouse a little about how much I am gone so I thought I would tell you the story I tell her about my activities. 

This trip centered on training the community health educators (CHEs) who are doing public health presentations to their communities.  The program expanded by adding 7 new CHEs and who were brought in first for training on the original topics (Safe Water, Hand Washing, Nutrition) so they would be caught up with the existing 26 CHEs.  The existing CHEs then joined the training and new topics of HIV/AIDS, Malaria Prevention, Gender-Based Violence, Family Planning and Albinism were taught.  They were excited about the new topics, which are much more engaging than talking about safe water and hand washing. 

 The new CHEs included five Pare tribe women and two from Maasai tribes.  They needed to be taught how to use the rechargeable picoprojectors, used for presenting the videos.  During past trainings, I realized some of the CHEs had little experience using electric devices.  So, in quizzing these women, I found out six had experience plugging a cell phone into a charging cord but none had ever put a plug in a wall outlet.  The seventh woman had no experience with electricity at all.  Instruction was needed so they wouldn’t wrap their fingers around the plug and touch the metal prongs as they inserted it.  Not a good idea with 220 volts.  

Two of the topics (family planning and HIV/AIDS) involve teaching about condom use.  I like to have a demonstration segment with each presentation to engage the audience, and demonstrating how to use a condom seemed to be reasonable for these topics.   However, buying penis models would have exceeded our budget since even a Styrofoam penis is over $50.  I consequently found myself making 37 penises on my wood lathe to save money, a life experience that I never foresaw.

Community Health Educators trying to decide how to react to their new hand-lathed model penises!

Community Health Educators trying to decide how to react to their new hand-lathed model penises!

 The CHEs received the penis models with much giggling and some good jokes.  The technique for demonstrating condom use was presented by Pastor Mpinda and he handled it with humor and skill.  I have attached a photo showing the CHEs with their new penises. 

 My days in Tanzania start early.  Many Tanzanians go to bed early because of the unreliable electricity (if they have it) and they also get up early.  I am routinely awakened by the Muslim call to prayers at 0500 every day.  The three mosques within earshot of where I stay seem to have their schedules coordinated so their amplified singing and prayers follow one another for the next 20 minutes.  The roosters then realize the equatorial sun is about to rise so they set to crowing.  Christian church bells follow the roosters so 0500 ends up being the time to get up. 

 While there, I had a large ring-shaped rash form on my back.  I thought it was Lyme disease so I started myself on Doxycycline.  I seemed ironic to carry over an infection from the US when I was in Africa with all its diseases.  It turned out it was probably an insect bite rather than Lyme Disease.  Perhaps one of the insects in the photos below was, the culprit!


oh, the bugs....

oh, the bugs….


at least it's easy to see the details, right?

at least it’s easy to see the details, right? 

22,000 People Learn About Safe Water!

In the first three months of the Improving Women’s Health Program, over 22,000 people in the Same District attended educational workshops on how to keep their water clean and safe!

IWHP Health Educator giving a presentation on how to keep their water safe and clean.

IWHP Health Educator giving a presentation on how to keep their water safe and clean.

At Empower Tanzania, we are pretty optimistic people, but this statistic blew us out of the water!  People are clearly excited to get some good solid information that will help keep their families safe and healthy.

Ms. Efrancia Nzoto, who manages the IWHP program in Tanzania

Ms. Efrancia Nzoto, who manages the IWHP program in Tanzania


Project Coordinator, Efrancia Nzota reports, “IWHP aims at reaching all the people of the Same District.  The main target is women, as we believe that “when you educate women, you educate the society.”  Same District, according to the 2012 Tanzania census has a total population of 269,807 people, with 138,292 of them women.  With this number of women, a lot can be done.  Improving Women’s Health Program basically provides health education; it started with safe and clean water, and is now doing hand washing training.  Next will be nutrition, and then others as we develop the curriculum.  Each subject is taught for 3 months.  Regarding the safe and clean water topic, we were able to meet 22,996 people, with 15,068 of them, or 65%, being women.  Within these women we found mothers, wives, sisters and daughters.  From an African perspective, women are the key to the households’ activities and from there we can also say they are key to household health.”


She goes on to say, “The Community Health Educators are amazing people to work with!  They know the community very well, but the most important thing is they have great influence in the community, and are very convincing.  I got a story from one Health Educator who was doing a presentation where an older man was very resistant to change.  He asked the question, ‘Madam, I have been here since my childhood and have now grown this old.  Why are you telling us to treat our water, while our fathers drank the same water for all these years and lived healthy lives?  I have never treated water, and I have lived long as well!”

The Health Educator answered, ‘Father, at that time, very few people lived here, and people really respected the water sources.  Nowadays, the population has grown, and people live near the water sources.  Agricultural activities are done with use of chemicals, and people direct their run-off water from washing, bathing and everything else they do towards the water source.  Some even do laundry in the water source.  Tell me if I’m lying!’

The old man answered, ‘You are very right, my child.  This new generation is no good.  Nowadays people are so different from our age.  I was lying to myself all these days, and from now on I will not drink the untreated water.  I will ask my wife to give me boiled water.  Thank you my child.’

From the visit the Health Educator made, she said everyone in the old man’s family was surprised, for no one had been able to change him before. What is more interesting is that I get this same story from many different Health Educators in many different areas.  Safe and clean water have been accepted by people so well, they are also responding well to the hand washing education now, as it is similar to the previous topic.”

Community Health Educators meet in small groups monthly for recognition, continuing education and to support each other in their work.

Community Health Educators meet in small groups monthly for recognition, continuing education and to support each other in their work.

Obviously, there is a lot to celebrate in this program!  We will continue to add new topics in basic healthy living every three months, with a goal to reach every women in the Same District with our message!