Equality in the western Serengeti
While we have not solved inequality and women around the world continue to suffer from marginalization – whether you are in Africa or America – we can see significant progress being made. We believe that here in the western Serengeti we are implementing and experiencing that change. At the core of the Grumeti Fund is the belief that equality and equal opportunity will enable the organization and the communities we work with to prosper. Over the last five years we have seen a significant increase in women involved in our community outreach programs and within the organization itself.
Since 2015 the number of women in senior roles has increased and women now comprise nearly 40% of the management team. We also have seen a shift within the community outreach programs to ensure that the programs are reaching men and women equally. For example, in 2019, there were 162 scholarship recipients – 82 male and 82 female. We know that if women are empowered that families and communities prosper. Through our initiatives such as scholarships, girls’ empowerment and a mentorship program, the confidence in young girls in local communities is growing. Pauline, a third form scholarship recipient at Issenye Secondary School echoes our sentiments, saying: “When a girl is educated, she always remembers her background. She always goes back to her family and the community at large and takes the benefit to the community and family members.”
We see this trend throughout the projects that are working on in the communities. In the enterprise development program, women are thriving. This is a program which educates people who want to become entrepreneurs on how to develop their personal goals and start businesses or existing business owners on how to increase their turnover and expand their businesses. In 2019 we saw the participation of 11 existing business owners and within that group the female participants experienced an average of 105% growth in their businesses.
This year the Grumeti Fund aims to reach over 5,000 girls through empowerment events. These events, which were developed in 2018 with the aim of promoting equality and educating and inspiring local high school girls to really believe in themselves, have been a huge success. For each event, the Grumeti Fund brings in a female Tanzanian celebrity, politician or business icon, as well as educators and specialists who touch on topics ranging from self-confidence to preventing female genital mutilation. These events are funded by the annual Serengeti Girls Run. An epic all-women journey through the Serengeti where women from around the world come together to run three half marathons over three days in support of the Grumeti Fund’s girls and women empowerment work. This initiative is about awareness and solidarity, as much as it is about fundraising. We are interested in spreading the word about empowerment and the importance of equality for girls and women in communities that are marginalized. As the fearless leader of the Community Outreach Program, Frida Mollel says, “We know that the youth of today are the mothers and fathers of tomorrow and that if we put our energy into training the youth, they will become ambassadors in their homes and at school. They will take good care of the Serengeti in the future and make decisions that are beneficial to their communities and to the environment.”
The women who are a part our programs and the women of the Grumeti Fund are hard-working, collaborative, forward-thinking and equality-driven individuals. They believe in the power of women and men working together to achieve success, whether it is in community outreach, anti-poaching, conservation, science or communications. Success is measured not purely by numbers but by impact created and the support across the whole team is palpable. As Katherine Cunliffe, the Head of Outreach and Sustainability so aptly said:
At the heart of the women working in the Grumeti Fund is the belief that we can make change for conservation and community development. We believe in a wonderful future for our children. We believe in the power of people. And we believe in the power of women to make that change.
If you want to join forces with us, please consider being a part of this year’s Serengeti Girls Run or making a donation to the Grumeti Fund to continue its mission to inspire equality in Tanzania.