Today is International Women’s Day 2019 and per the website, each year on March 8th, we celebrate globally the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women.  The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.

International Women’s Day (IWD) has occurred for well over a century, with the first​ ​IWD gathering in 1911 supported by over a million people in Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland.  Prior to this, the​ Socialist Party of America, United Kingdom’s Suffragists and Suffragettes, and further groups campaigned for women’s equality.

The theme of IWD 2019 is #BalanceforBetter.  In the words of the IWD website:

The future is exciting.  Let’s build a gender-balanced world.

Everyone has a part to play – all the time, everywhere.

From grassroots activism to worldwide action, we are entering an exciting period of history where the world expects balance.  We notice its absence and celebrate its presence.

Balance drives a better working world.  Let’s all help create a #BalanceforBetter.

Toa’s OG, Vumi Temba, back in 2012.

We didn’t know it then, but Toa was on its way to becoming a vehicle for underemployed women in Tanzania to develop a professional persona, gain a livelihood, and create a sense of empowerment.

Balance is not a women’s issue, it’s a business issue.  The race is on for the gender-balanced boardroom, a gender-balanced government, gender-balanced media coverage, a gender-balance of employees, more gender-balance in wealth, gender-balanced sports coverage….

Gender balance is essential for economies and communities to thrive.

The first group of Toa hires – Mama Mshiu, Clara Munuo, Doreen Mongi, and Hyasinta Macha – in 2013.

By this time, we were starting to really see the value in hiring and training local women to tutor our students.  Not only did the children receive the support they needed, but these women got the opportunity to learn new skills and become empowered both personally and professionally.

Collective action and shared responsibility for driving a gender-balanced world is key.  International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women – while also marking a call to action for accelerating gender balance.

The first International Women’s Day occurred in 1911, supported by over one million people.  Today, IWD belongs to all groups collectively everywhere.  IWD is not country, group, or organization specific.

The second group of Toa hires – Imelda Urio, Rose Assey, Leah Mboya, Rose Chacky, Sarah Minja, Nelly Nyatuu, and Sia Mtenga – in 2016.

At Toa, we were now fully ensconced in our “2Gen” approach, that of supporting the struggling learners in the public primary school classrooms AND providing opportunities for employment to local women who had been opted out of the formal education/employment sectors.

Gloria Steinem, world-renowned feminist, journalist and activist once said: “The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights.”

The latest group of Toa hires – Glory Chacky, Haika Motta, Grace Tenga, Rehema Mpangala, Victoria Slaa, Happyness Njau, Emma Kulata, Oliva Temba, Dorcas Laizer, Victoria Moshi, Linah Peter, Graceanna Kisusi, Noela Kitomari, Catherine Ruseke, and Doreen Olomi – in 2019.

We are now nearly 30 ladies strong at Toa and we are PROUD to be women and PROUD to be Team Toa!  Happy International Women’s Day 2019, everybody, and don’t forget, let’s all help create a #BalanceforBetter!!

*Not shown but still working with Toa are: Dorcas Kiwelu, Marietha Laswai, Glory Mongi.

**Sadly, Mama Mshiu has gone on to retirement!