The Minister of State in the First Vice-President’s Office in Zanzibar, Ms Fatma Abdulhabib Fereji, was honoured for her leadership role in defending the rights and interests of the underprivileged including women, children and the disabled. On the other hand, Ms Ndinini Kimesera Sikar, the Director of the Maasai Women’s Development Organization (MWEDO), received recognition in her efforts to fight for the rights of Maasai girls and women, helping them attain enhanced access to health care and educational opportunities.
The Tanzania Woman of Courage Award is bestowed upon women leaders for their tireless efforts to promote equality, opportunity and justice for Tanzanian women and girls. Presenting the Awards yesterday, the US Ambassador, Mr Alfonso Lenhadt, said the awardees were honoured for their efforts to promote equality, opportunity, participation in public life and access to health care and education for Tanzanian women and girls.
“We honour two remarkable women whose lives have been devoted to a cause greater than themselves. Traditionally, we honour one Tanzanian Woman of Courage each year, but this year we felt Minister of State Fatma Abdulhabib Fereji and Ms Ndinini Kimesera Sikar had made such tremendous contributions to improving the lives of Tanzanian women and girls, that we decided to recognize both of these outstanding women,” he explained.
He said the two women overcame great odds to achieve their dreams, and in their success saw an opportunity to serve others. Although they hail from different backgrounds and regions of Tanzania, they obtained an education and persevered against odds with exemplary courage. “And they did not stop once they achieved success, they reached back to lift others as they climbed, and in doing so, transformed the lives of all people in their communities,” he added.
The Minister of State, Ms Fereji, said her achievements were possible due to the support from mentors who guided her path towards success. “What women need is empowerment. It is my belief that many share with me the views that women, if given a chance, can make significant contribution to their society and inspire more and more women to be more responsible of their role in their society,” she explained.
The MWEDO Director, Ms Sikar, challenged all citizens to promote women’s empowerment in their communities. “I accept this award to encourage many women and young girls in the Maasai society and Tanzania who are still facing mounting challenges towards pursuing their goals in life due to unfavourable cultural, economic, political and social restrictions imposed upon them by the societies, simply because they are girls and women,” she noted.
Previous recipients of the Tanzanian Women of Courage award since the US Embassay started issuing the award in 2008, include High Court Justice Joaquine De-Mello (2012); the Executive Director and founder of Kivulini Women’s Rights Organization in Mwanza, Maimuna Kanyamala (2011). Others are; former Executive Director of the Tanzania Media Women Association, Ananilea Nkya (2010);
Member of Parliament for Same East Constituency, Kilimanjaro Region Ms Anna Kilango Malecela (2009); and Executive Director of the Legal and Human Rights Centre; Helen Kijo-Bisimba (2008). Over 175 guests attended the ceremony held at the US Embassy offices, including senior government officials and leaders from the nation’s private, political, health, media, and civic sectors.