Giving women a voice in Tanzania
Since Asha Mohammed joined the Kivulini Women’s Group in Mwanza on Tanzania’s Lake Victoria three years ago, not only has her income increased eightfold, giving her hope for a better education for her children but she now speaks up for herself and plays a greater role in her community.
Irish Aid funding for women’s organisations in Tanzania is helping women like Asha Mohammed earn more and have a greater say in decisions that affect themselves and their families.
Women empowering themselves
The Kivulini Women’s Group, a community organisation, gives training on human rights with a focus on reducing violence in the home, as well as support to its members to start a business. Over 700 local women have received small business training.
Asha and the other women in the group established a yoghurt-making business and from a small start of 10,000 shillings (€5) each a month, their income has grown considerably. Each member now takes home 80,0000 shillings (€40) a month. The extra money is a valuable addition to the family income and has helped build support and respect for the group amongst the men in the community.
Although initially resistant to the idea of the Women’s Group, Asha’s husband has become an active supporter and an advocate for woman’s equality with his male peers in the community. He and Asha now make decisions jointly on how to spend the extra money and have chosen to put the money towards their children’s education.
“Neither myself nor my husband went to secondary school,” said Asha. “But at least I am in a better position than my mother when she was my age. My dream is for my kids to receive a good education and to complete secondary school.”
The training and support provided also helps to challenge and change community attitudes and enables women to play a more equal role at home and within their communities.
Since Asha Mohammed joined the Kivulini Women’s Group three years ago, her income has increased eightfold, giving her hope for a better education and future for her children.
Reducing violence against women
And it is working. Already there has been a reduction in levels of violence against women in their homes – an abuse of human rights, which affects many women in Mwanza and throughout Tanzania.
Changing attitudes to women is a proven way of breaking the cycle of poverty and violence but it is a long term process. However, the Kivulini Group is showing that it can be done. By building women’s awareness of their rights, giving women a greater economic role and a bigger say in decision making and by engaging men in community discussions to help them understand the issues, their work is changing lives.
Building a better future
We know from our experience that when women are healthy and educated and can participate more fully, the benefits extend to their children, communities and countries; poverty and malnutrition decline, living standards improve and economic growth increases. Because of this, and because gender equality is a human right, we put it at the centre of our work.
In Tanzania, in addition to our support for community groups like the Kivulini Women’s Group, and in order to ensure that the experiences from the ground are not lost at the top, we work closely with the government and other donor countries to ensure that national policies in agriculture, law and health take account of the needs and experience of women.
Something we can be proud of
7 Places Between 2006 and 2011, Tanzania improved its ranking by seven places on the UN Human Development Index, a measure that combines income, life expectancy, education and health.