Overcoming Gender Stereotypes on and off the Field
By Anaïs Caput
“In the midst of modernity, there are many things holding us back” – Seko Tingitana, Director and Producer of The Team in Tanzania
In many ways, Tanzania has a model legal system for addressing gender issues. The country has ratified the main international conventions protecting the rights of women and its Constitution makes provisions to ensure the representation of women in Parliament. In the 2012 Women in Parliament World Classification, Tanzania ranks 19th, tying with Spain and way ahead of its neighbors Kenya or Burundi. Yet, there is a gap between law and practice. Seko Tingitana, a young Tanzanian woman who founded her own TV production company in 2008 and who currently serves as the Director and Producer of The Team in Tanzania has said that “there are many things holding us back.” Tanzanian women continue to face high rates of gender based violence, low rates of girls’ secondary school education, low participation in political decision-making, and barriers to land inheritance.
To address these issues, Alkemist Media, Seko’s TV production company, and SFCG are collaborating to produce a TV series that promotes gender equality. The Team, an episodic TV drama, is set in a Tanzanian secondary school. The story revolves around three main characters: Upendo, Baraka and Sophia, three 16-year-old youths from different backgrounds who have known each other all their lives. On the edge of adulthood, they are searching for their own identities while facing both familial and cultural pressures.
The character-driven series was created by a team of local writers, including Seko, under the supervision of SFCG’s Common Ground Productions Executive Producer, Deborah Jones. The key to writing the series is to create realistic characters in believable situations. The series provides Tanzanian youth with positive role models. One such character is the dynamic Ms. Wito, the new civics teacher who decides to create a girls’ football team. Throughout the show, she encourages young people, especially women, to make better choices for themselves. The program addresses gender issues prevalent in Tanzania, such as rape and impunity; early marriage and teenage pregnancy; and various gender stereotypes, while focusing on the empowerment of young girls to make choices that will improve their lives and the life of women in Tanzania.
In addition to the TV series, SFCG, through its media arm, Common Ground Productions, also supports the production of The Team radio series. This enables us to reach a broader audience, particularly in rural areas throughout the country. Along with the radio and TV series, there will also be a mobile cinema and dialogue project in remote regions of the country where local facilitators will encourage community discussions around the issues covered in the series.
Common Ground Productions co-produces The Team with local partners in more than fifteen countries across Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. These other versions of The Team have been lauded in the international media and have been proven to effectively address their target issue. Principal photography of the first season of The Team in Tanzania was completed in September and post-production is currently underway. The series is scheduled to launch in January 2013. Stay tuned!
Anaïs Caput is an Africa Program Associate with SFCG. Anaïs supports our country programs in East and Southern Africa and has previously worked with SFCG in Brussels and Bujumbura.