Three key issues provide big challenges to everyday life in Tanzania and indeed much of Africa. We don't see these issues as mutually exclusive - each issue can be solved by a common thread, namely highly-skilled women riding motorcycles!
In a typical year in Tanzania, a motorcycle taxi driver stands a 69% chance of suffering an accident (according to an AMEND survey).
Given that riders often don't wear helmets and that hospitals are generally not well equipped for head injuries or complex bone fractures, injuries are often either fatal or will change the rider's ability to continue life as usual; a serious issue when they are supporting a family of five children (on average).
These crashes trap families in a cycle of poverty but most importantly, ARE avoidable.
Every day in Tanzania, thousands of children ride to school on the back of local motorcycle taxis, often with more than one of them riding "mishkaki" (or kebab-style!) at a time with their brothers or sisters. These children regularly encounter accidents, breaking arms and legs and sadly often worse.
One of the major contributing factors in this is a lack of understanding on the part of the parents about why their children need to wear a helmet on their journey (most do not). In addition, most parents have no idea what sets apart a safe motorcycle and rider from an unsafe one, or that by merely casting an eye over a motorcycle to check for bald tyres and faulty electrics for example can make a significant difference to the likelihood of their child or children being involved in an accident as they travel on their way to school.
Employment opportunities for women in Tanzania, as in many parts of Africa, are relatively scarce, especially in fields typically dominated by men such as engineering and driving.
This not only reinforces gender stereotypes about what women are capable of but also reduces the proportion of family income invested in children's health and education, blocking the next generation's chance of progress.
However, of course women are more than capable of being taught to ride well and in our experience, many are keen if they are just given a chance and especially if they can see role models in their own community. It may be unusual but it's not taboo. Many local women actually feel more comfortable with a woman rider so there is an opportunity!