IMPACT STORY

RiseUp: Fursa Kiganjani

Tailored user experiences to uniquely empower the girl child with the opportunities, networks, mentorship and information to execute on her dreams.
Tanzania

Background

1 in 6 teenage Tanzanian girls faces pregnancy. By law, young expectant mothers are not allowed back in school to finish an education. This limits her chances to gain exposure, learn, tap into opportunities and eventually gain decent work so as to make a living for herself and child. More times than not, this results into a vicious cycle of poverty and ill health for generations.

According to UNFPA’s recent fact sheet on teenage pregnancy, “Tanzania has the 17th highest adolescent fertility rate in Africa.” (Tanzania.unfpa.org) There are various causes that contribute to young girls of school-going age engaging in sexual activity resulting in pregnancy or coming into contact with STI’s including HIV/AIDs. These causes can be looked upon from an ecological perspective; with influencing factors such as environmental, structural, Family Background, Community and group influence led. These influence young girl’s personalities, leading to skewed personal identities featuring inferiority complexes, insecurities, lack of self- confidence, fear, and ignorance.

Without proper education and information about themselves (including sexual reproductive health education), the world around them, young girls can fall into the trap of poor decisions. Rise Up creates a safe space for girls to access mentorship, reinforcing support systems, platforms for open and safe dialogue, and learning, creating an environment to help girls avoid early pregnancies and unprotected sexual intercourse that enhances HIV/AIDs prevalence.

Teen pregnancy renders a huge population of girls disadvantaged and unable to engage in decent work, perpetuating a cycle of poverty, ill health and marginalization across generations.

Problem

Pregnancy at a young age primarily means the end of dreams, ambitions and the ability to effectively contribute to personal as well as collective national economic growth. This limits a young girl’s chances to complete or gain an education, as well as lessens her prospects for tapping into opportunities and getting decent work so as to make a living for herself and child.
This often leads to deep psychological and physical health deterioration in the young mother as she battles stigma from parents, peers, and communities. More times than not, this results into a vicious cycle of poverty.

Solution

RiseUp is a digital safe space and community for any young girl with a dream. In the form of a progressive web application, its easy-to-use, fun, and interactive user interface is designed to provide girls ages 13 to 25 years with a community that reinforces their sense of being/self-worth and empowers them with the information, resources, and encouragement to execute on their dreams. RiseUp features information about 7 different types of opportunities; forums for safe discussions; a learning platform with fun and engaging content ranging from sexual reproductive health education, soft skills and other technical and employability skills like how to write a CV; an opportunity to engage with a variety of mentors, and (soon) certified counselors.

To ensure age-appropriate content consumption and dialogue, RiseUp categorizes user experience and content consumption according to the age of users. Furthermore, it gives the users a space to report abuse should it come from within or without the platform. RiseUp then connects the user’s case to the relevant stakeholder partners. The platform also provides a space for development practitioners focusing on gender issues to directly engage said target group.

Process

It was important to understand why the rate of teenage pregnancies was still rising in Tanzania, despite the number of interventions that were launched by different stakeholders to curb the problem. In order to do this, our team first sought out as much data as we could solicit from online sources. After conflicting desk research findings, we then took to the streets to conduct one on one interviews with over 200 girl students from both private and public schools in Dar es Salaam. Our team also sought out secondary school teachers of whom we met five from both public and private institutions.

We also invited over 300 various stakeholders to Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) that largely focused on understanding what are the underlying causes for teenage and unplanned pregnancies among young girls and collect ideas on possible solutions. The FGDs had university students and graduates, out of school girls, unemployed graduates, teenage mothers, and parents in attendance, each group in different sessions. 63 participants total showed up for the FGDs. Among the challenges mentioned across all groups, the cross-cutting theme that stood out was the negative and defeatist internal beliefs carried by young girls about self. It was unanimous across all groups that lack of confidence, fear, a lack of knowledge about opportunities, ignorance, comparison and a lack of coaching, access to proper mentors and role models largely contribute to the negative decision-making processes that young girls go through. Other challenges included a lack of awareness of SRHE, community perspectives and cultural influences, peer influence, the negative influence of technology as well as family upbringing and backgrounds. To curb these challenges, the following interventions stood out; A need for education, awareness, and access to information about SRHE, reinforcing networks and communities, peer inspiration, mentors and role models and guidance counseling.

Following the feedback garnered from the on-ground research, the RiseUp team proceed to create a dynamic digital platform that would give each visitor personalized content and experiences that would aid her in the journey of her dreams and ambitions as she engages with a reinforcing community.

Impact and Outcomes

Our main goal is to empower girls with a reinforcing community and with the information resources that would empower them to execute on their dreams. Below is a brief description of our impact as of February 2020, that is tracked by periodic (Daily & Weekly) assessment:

  • Number of girls successfully on-boarded (13 – 25 years): 212 users
  • Opportunities
    • Number of opportunities loaded on RiseUp:
      • Jobs: 63
      • Internships: 11
      • Volunteering: 11
      • Scholarships: 22
      • Training workshops: 9
      • Conferences: 9
      • Events: 15
  • Learning Lab | Games, Health, Innovation, Entrepreneurship, Skills – In Development

Key Collaborators

Unleashed Africa Social Ventures is a group of social enterprises focused on youth development, social innovation and job creation in the areas of arts and development, gender and social enterprise ecosystem development. Through its work in gender, Unleashed Africa received a grant of 25,000 USD and mentorship from the Tanzania Data Lab.

To learn more, visit https://riseup.co.tz/

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