STARS of most reality television shows spend their time nibbling earwigs, sunbathing and bickering. Those taking part in a Big Brother-style show recently broadcast in Tanzania, however, had a more productive experience.
Fourteen farmers, all women, and 26 urban youngsters were thrown together in a specially constructed village under near 24-hour TV surveillance. The women set daily tasks from their own lives--growing vegetables, looking after cows or fetching water--which the teenagers had to complete in order to survive. The farmers were given farming tips and got to talk to politicians and policy-makers in the "diary room".
In Tanzania, as in many African countries, women produce much of the food that feeds their people, but few own their land. "Women are treated as tractors, but they have to treat their husbands like angels," said one of the contestants.
The Women Food Heroes competition, run by Oxfam and "Maisha Plus", a popular Tanzanian reality TV show, gave the young contestants and its viewers a taste of what women in Tanzania endure to put food on the table. It was a rare opportunity to promote women's voices and celebrate their contribution, says Mwanahamisi Salimu of Oxfam. It was also a chance to push for them to have access to the same kind of support and rights already available to men farmers, she continues. It[view whole blog post ]