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Life Lessons – Self-Advocacy

Binti Shupavu is Girls Livelihood and Mentorship Initiative’s  life skills program for lower secondary school girls.  The four-year course covers topics such as study skills, personal leadership, health and self-confidence with the goal of increasing Ordinary Level graduation rates for vulnerable girls. 


This is the third of a four-part series that gives a glimpse at what Scholars actually learn in a Binti Shupavu classroom.  Binti Shupavu uses a “spiral curriculum,” which means that key topics are revisited progressively each year.  (See the “Experience Map” at the bottom of this blog for more about this approach.)


As always, the lesson consists of the Binti Shupavu Mentor sharing important information and interactive activities and discussions that keep the girls engaged in the topic and give them the opportunity to express themselves. 




Unit:  Personal Leadership

Lesson: Being an Advocate for Yourself


Mentor Introduction


Today we are going to talk about what it means to stand up for yourself.  We will identify some of the tools you can use to develop confidence in who you are and make sure other people know how special and unique you are.


We all face everyday challenges in our relationships with people, unexpected events (such as the pandemic!), and difficult choices.  It makes life easier when we at least know and recognize our strengths, and can honor the things that are important to us. 


Individual Activity – 15 Things that Make Me Special


Please get a paper and pencil and we will begin by listing 15 things that make you special (Mentor writes this prompt on the board).  Special can mean anything that makes you stand out from other people in some way.  You should think about:

        Your strengths.

        Things you know how to do well (your abilities and skills).

        Things you enjoy doing.

        Things you have done that you are proud of.

        Your talents.

        Important things you have learned.

        Positive things about your personality.


Class Discussion


Was it easy or difficult to list things that make you special?  Why or why not?


What are some things that get in the way of recognizing what makes you special?


A Year 2 Binti Shupavu from TPC shares what she has learned from the program… including speaking up for herself!

Interactive Lecture – Self-Advocacy


Mentor starts by defining self-advocacy.  The class proceeds to discuss strategies to strengthen a Scholar’s ability to express herself and what she believes in with increased confidence.


Self-advocacy is the action of representing oneself or one’s views or interests.  It is the ability to tell others what you need and to make good decisions about what supports are necessary to meet those needs. 


Why is self-advocacy important for students?


Adolescence is usually the time when students begin to question authority and generally move toward becoming self-determined individuals.


Rather than being dependent on others, it is important that students be given opportunities to establish personal goals and make their own independent choices.  This is the way that they will become adults who can make decisions for themselves.


In adulthood, you will be expected to advocate for yourself and take care of your responsibilities.


Learning self-advocacy skills also develops self-determination skills.  In other words, what do you want to do with your time and your life. This brings about increased personal satisfaction and happiness.


All students, whether or not they are strong academically, have a disability, or face other limiting factors such as poverty, must learn through opportunities and experiences to explore, take risks, learn from consequences, become self-motivated, develop positive self-esteem, and gradually gain control over their own lives.


Can you think of an example of a time when you have been an advocate for yourself? 


Or have you seen someone else stand up in a way that inspired you?


Is it common in Tanzania for women to speak up for themselves?  Why not?


Binti Shupavu Scholars from Mbokomu listen attentively to their Mentor talk about the importance of self-advocacy and knowing your interests.

Paired Activity – My Interests


How do we even know what our own interests are?  It is important to think about your abilities realistically.  This means to think about yourself and honestly understand what you can do well and what you are not doing well.  This will help you to continue to improve your strengths.


Here are some things to think about that might help you identify your vocational skills and interests.  With a partner of your choice, take a piece of paper and make a list of:

        School subjects you like and in which you earn good grades.

        Your personality traits (for example: patient, friendly, talkative, or organized).

        Your physical traits (for example: strong, good with your hands, athletic).

        Extracurricular activities in which you participate (for example: clubs, sports, hobbies).

        Past or present work, church involvement, volunteer activities.


Here are a few other things to consider by discussing with your partner:

        Do you prefer being inside or outside?

        Do you like to sit, stand, or move around?

        Do you like to work with data (which means numbers or written information), people, or things?

        Do you like to work alone or with others?

        Do you like to work where it is quiet or noisy?

        Are you interested in going to trade school or college to receive additional education beyond secondary?





Explore other Binti Shupavu Lesson Units

Positive Role Models and Building Self-Confidence

Staying True to Yourself and Knowing your Values

Life Challenges and Resiliency

Contributed by: Asimwe Suedi, Binti Shupavu Project Manager









AfricAid mentors secondary school girls in Tanzania to complete their education, develop into confident leaders, and transform their own lives and their communities.  We equip girls to overcome challenges and reach their full potential because educated girls create lasting positive change.  The outcome is proactive, resilient, and socially-responsible girls who secure better jobs, raise healthier families and increase the standing of women in society.


Girls Livelihood and Mentorship Initiative (GLAMI) is AfricAid’s program implementation partner in Tanzania.