Logo SAVE - Sisters against violent extremism

02. Oktober 2010

Women without Borders with Shadya Karume © Zayedesa

The Women without Borders Team, the four Austrian swim trainers and Zanzibar´s first lady Shadya A. Karume in Stone Town/Zanzibar
1st row, f.l.t.r.: Ulrich Kropiunigg, Shadya A.Karume, Edit Schlaffer 
2nd row,  f.l.t.r.: Laura Kropiunigg, Eva Zagorz, Joe Hepworth, Elaine Hargrove, Elisabeth Szalay, Elisabeth Kasbauer, Elke Reicht, Hedi Weirer, Rafael Kropiunigg

Sansibar - Swimming Woman

Zanzibar impression &;copy WwB

Tourism Minister and Edit Schlaffer &;WwB

Edit Schlaffer talking with Sania Hassan, Zanzibar´s Tourism Minister

Seaweed cooperative &;copy WwB

Jump into the water © WwB

Gruppe 1 Swim&Health © WwB

One group of the participants of the swim training and the health and awareness workshop

Trust Exercise © WwB

Teamshaping © WwB

Students participating in the Teamshaping Workshop

Sylvia Strasse and filmteam © WwB

The filmmaker Sylvia Strasser (Paolo Film) with the local film team in Zanzibar

Zanzibar - The Island of Change! Women Walking into the Future

Women without Borders’ vision: to establish Zanzibar as a model for change and successful development.

From June 22 to July 10, Women without Borders traveled to Zanzibar—a small island in the Indian Ocean, half and hour by plane from Tanzania—with a team of researchers from the fields of economics, science, and psychology.

Zanzibar’s population is 98% Muslim, and almost half of the inhabitants are affected by poverty and live on ca. one US Dollar a day. High rates of unemployment, minimal opportunities for education, and slim prospects for the future define everyday life. Women are especially disadvantaged; they must fight an uphill battle to secure basic education, they have almost no say in family decisions, and parents generally retain the right of spousal choice for their children. Rising rates of HIV/AIDS infections, want of medical care, poor educational opportunities (especially for girls), as well as the lack of future prospects for youth are producing a climate of uncertainty and hopelessness.

Nonetheless, the island has potential. It is a jewel in the Indian Ocean, has fertile soil, a unique cultural heritage, fantastic beaches, and active, educated, and involved young men and women who want to play a part in shaping the future of their homeland. This potential is not being utilized, and the local resources are not being employed. Even the booming tourist sector is bypassing the local population.

The women know most about the problems on the island. We need a lot here, such as streets, for example, but what about education? What about medical care, what about clean drinking water? Women are more aware of these problems than are men. Men only look at the large projects, unattainable goals. But the women really care about the people, they represent the people. Men only represent themselves, their own wishes.” (Sania Hassan, Minister for Tourism)

The women of Zanzibar need to be challenged and encouraged to actively look for chances and to advocate for their country. The project that came to fruition in summer 2008—swim- and lifeguard training held in conjunction with confidence-boosting and health workshops for young women and Teamshaping workshops for male and female university students—is the first step towards achieving an “Island of Change.”

Swimming into the Future! Between Veil and Bathing Dress
Four professional Austrian lifeguards – Elke Reicht and Elisabeth Szalay from the Austrian Life Guard Association and Hedi Weirer and Eva Zagorz from the Austrian Youth Red Cross – trained a diverse group of 38 women: army and/or navy soldiers, housewives and farmers from the neighboring island of Pemba, entrepreneurs and activists, sewers and athletes all took part in the five-day swim course. The non-swimmers and beginners learned how to swim, practiced correct arm and leg techniques, and took part in water and lifeguard training.

I learned so much in a short period of time. I can dive now, can breathe correctly, and know how to float—this is wonderful. And I’ve met so many new people here, I’m excited to have new friends,” so Amina.

The most important thing we learned this week was the First Aid and life guarding techniques. We live on an island, surrounded by the Indian Ocean, and the youngsters like to play on the beach and swim in the sea. We hope and pray that this was not the first and simultaneously not the last training session, and hope they will continue. We also hope that one day we will have the opportunity to build swimming pools in our communities, so that we can show our peers what we have learned. We are going to try hard to teach our communities, to give them what we have gained, so that we all can profit.” (Feedback from the entire group)

My Body, My Self!
In addition to the swim lessons, the participants took part in a consciousness-raising and health workshop. A specifically developed training handbook targeted the needs of the Zanzibari women. Health was defined in the broadest sense, as bodily well-being, inner balance, freedom from abuse and life in a healthy environment.
Leaping into the water was a symbolic act for many of the women. Internal tensions were relaxed, fears were overcome, and direct access to one’s own body and emotions was discovered. Domestic violence is a major problem and a taboo topic in Zanzibar. There are no facilities for victims of domestic violence, no women’s shelters or hotlines. Cultural norms and restrictions, shame, and honor prevent many women from speaking up about violent assault. In the workshop, the participants had the opportunity to speak about domestic violence—for many for the first time in their lives.

I learned so much in such a short period of time. As soon as I am back home, I will teach everything to my family. Mostly, that it is incredibly important to be able to trust. I will pass on everything to my family, so that they wake up, so that they trust.” (Salma)

Teamshaping – The young Zanzibari Talent Pool makes Africa their Job
Prof. Ulrich Kropiunigg, from the Medical University of Vienna, has developed the Teamshaping Concept to provide relevant communicative structures to communities to enable them to identify and realize collectively determined goals. The Teamshaping model in Zanzibar had no prerequisites other than the general theme of “gender sensitivity;” the group members had to determine the subjects of investigation and end objectives themselves. Prof. Kropiunigg conducted two such Teamshaping workshops at the State University of Zanzibar (SUZA) with students from the State University and Zanzibar University (ZU). These students represent the educated elite who are nonetheless caught between progressive ideals and an enduring lack of gender sensitivity. The Teamshaping workshops juxtaposed these two extremes, for while the first group was forward-thinking and dominated by the female participants, during the second week the men expressed lasting sentiments of male superiority and female subordination.

The Teamshaping model had no content specificiations; the students were expected to independently develop their own themes and objectives. Teamshaping only provides the communicative structures for the factual parameters of the subject matter, for interaction on the personal level, motivation, conditions for the setting, and the goal. These five levels are periodically reassessed during the course of the workshop through continual reflection. The first group, composed of 22 male and female students, decided on the theme of furthering education for women; the second group—18 young men and women—devoted itself to the theme of domestic violence in Zanzibar.

The participants came from very diverse family backgrounds, but they all have big goals and are eager to actively take part in the formation of their country:
My name is Fatma and I am a 26 year old woman who has just graduated from the State University of Zanzibar. I studied Education of the Arts and I am going to become an English and Swahili teacher. I hope one day to be able to lecture at the university from which I graduated. Before then, I dream of going abroad to do my Masters, perhaps the UK or the USA.
I come from a large family. I have two sisters and three brothers. All of us went to school, but my older sister dropped out at the age of 15 to get married. I wish to get married someday, and have a large family as well, but not before I finish my education. I studied very hard; I would not want my effort to go to waste

The female participants expected to gain more trust in themselves and and their abilities as well as empowerment from the workshop.
I have a chance to prove my knowledge here and change ideas in Zanzibar, I have a chance here to promote women’s empowerment. By forming groups I can organise groups of women” is how Reziki formulates her future plans.

The Island of Change – Walking into the Future
A fact-finding mission around the themes of environment, health, and tourism made possible the construction of an encompassing network on Zanzibar and has laid the foundation for ideas and future projects. Women without Borders met with male and female Ministers, activists, journalists, doctors, lawyers, athletes, and investor - with success: currently the first anonymous anti-violence hotline in Zanzibar is being established in cooperation with WwB’s partner organization, ZAYADESA.

You will soon be able to download more extensive reports on the individual workshops as well as a documentary film on the project from the website!

We would like to thank our supporters and sponsors:
Federal Chancellery for Sports
McCaw Foundation
Austrian Life Guard Association
Youth Red Cross
BTU Travel
Hervis Sports
And others


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