A Friday workshop for the tutors was held on July 23rd and was run by Novatus Marandu of Linda Community about Verbal Empowerment Self-Defense for Girls and Women.  The report is below.


The Verbal Empowerment Self-Defense for Girls and Women workshop was conducted amid a third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic in Tanzania.  Gender-based violence against girls and women and other forms of violence against children will likely rise as was the case when the pandemic hit the country in early March last year.  This workshop comes at the right time to empower Toa tutors with verbal and minor physical skills to protect themselves against violence.  Some of these skills are relevant and can be taught to the pupils with whom Toa Nafasi tutors work.

The workshop started with greetings and Novatus as the lead facilitator introducing himself, his role, and the training he had prepared.  He went on to introduce Belina as co-facilitator and asked the Toa tutors to introduce themselves with their first names.  The lead facilitator also asked the tutors to share how they were feeling and how had their day been so far using ‘Kipima Hisia’ or “thermo-feelings” from an imaginary thermometer.  Tutors used the color green for happy and good, yellow for not bad, and red for not feeling good at all.  Most of the tutors were green and shared that their day had been good.

The cofacilitator then introduced the topic, what it means, and why it’s important for the tutors to know.  She asked the tutors to form two groups and she distributed white papers to each.  The materials the facilitators used to deliver the training were a computer, chalk, the blackboard, pens, and white papers.

“Is verbal empowerment self-defense training for girls and women essential?”  This was the question one of the groups was tasked to discuss in favor of self-defense training while the other group had to argue against it.  The facilitators intended to test the knowledge of the participants on the topic.  The outcome of the discussion was that the tutors had diverse views on the necessity of the skills to girls and women.

Leah’s group shared their approval of the training saying that it helps end gender-based violence.  Girls and women receive useful skills with which to stop violence before it occurs.

Grace’s group shared their disapproval of the training saying that despite it, children and women continue to be impregnated against their will, and that gender-based violence and sextortion and sexual exploitation still continue.

The lead facilitator, Novatus, explained that the goal of the verbal empowerment self-defense topic he was facilitating was to understand:

  • The meaning of verbal self-defense for girls and women
  • The goal of verbal self-defense
  • The power of verbal skills over physical skills

Tutors asked questions on areas they felt the facilitators needed to provide more clarification and the facilitators engaged all the tutors to discuss and answer these questions.  Some of the questions asked were:

  • What do you do if you are in an office with your boss and he tries to assault you?
  • What physical skills do you use to defend yourself in case of an assault?
  • What happens if you use the physical skills and the attacker ends up being severely hurt?
  • Will self-defense result in legal consequences against the girl or woman?

These questions and the resultant discussions showed that the tutors were very interested with the physical aspects of the training, so the facilitator went on to explain through a chant – “First choice, use your voice; Second course, physical force!” – that physical attacks were only used where it’s absolutely necessary.

The facilitator led the tutors into an understanding that empowerment self-defense is what a person says, believes, or does that helps keep them safe and that the goal is to get away not fight the attacker or be the winner.

The tutors sang a song together called “Don’t Touch” and one of the tutors led the others.  The facilitators emphasized that the tutors sing aloud, perform the actions that went along with the song, and not be ashamed.  The song “Don’t Touch” intends to start a conversation about private parts without fear or shame.  Moreover, the role of voice was emphasized as it is relevant in verbal empowerment self-defense.  The facilitators also led tutors to sing other songs that were intended to unleash their voices, ensure their involvement and concentration in the workshop, and connect each other to have fun.

The session ended by welcoming further questions, suggestions, and recommendations from the tutors.  Grace expressed her concern that the self-defense physical skills would not be useful in a situation where sex corruption (sextortion) is sought from a girl/woman applying for a job.  She said that in that situation, attacking the boss that is trying to rape you in a room where there are no witnesses might lead to problems to the girl/woman.  She thought the police and the court will not believe you as long as it’s his word against yours.  The other tutors were welcomed to discuss Grace’s concern.

Finally, tutors were taught some self-defense techniques for children to avoid sexual abuse and violence.  They were asked to incorporate some of these techniques in their classrooms as they implement sexual abuse and violence prevention with their students.

Tutors were also asked if they would welcome an opportunity to continue with the seven remaining topics of the training and they agreed.

Novatus, as lead facilitator, made the following recommendations to wrap up the training:

  • It’s recommended that all eight topics of verbal empowerment self-defense training for the tutors be completed.
  • It’s further recommended that implementation of the skills and techniques relevant to pupils who the Toa tutors work with be implemented in classrooms and the facilitators assess.
  • Toa should also consider conducting a more extensive empowerment self-defense workshop that contains verbal, emotional, and physical techniques of interrupting violence.