“I was one of the founding members of the WRLF after PWC came to the village council to discuss bringing together the local women.
“On forming, our first point of concern was to improve women’s rights to land, property and personal protection. At the time, women were not at all involved in decision making in the village or at home. For example, women were not involved in decisions to sell family livestock or how to use the money. No women owned their own land either.
“Over the last few years the forum has solved spousal conflict for 10 families. Most of the issues were instances where wives were unfairly treated and not given their rights. The training we received through the WRLF meant that we were able to resolve the issues, and I am positive that more training will have even more impact in our local community. I already see more women owning land and property and this continues to grow.
“My own life has been changed through my involvement in the WRLF. I now stand in the general assemblies and speak up for my rights. All of us women now are strong and confident to stand up for our rights in front of our husbands and all men. We are no longer afraid.
“The highlight of my time in the WRLF as Chairwoman came during the elections for village council. We secured 10 women representatives out of the total 25 council members. In the past we have had a maximum of four.
“I am one of the newly elected female council members. In my new role I hope that I can advocate for women’s rights and progress for this whole community. I am excited to be able to represent my fellow women as a leader.”
“I got divorced in 2015 after 25 years of marriage. My six children and I were chased away from our matrimonial home by my husband. Fortunately, I had a small plot that was given to me by the village council.
"I had to start my life afresh and had to solely provide for my children. My husband wanted to grab my plot but members of WRLF in my village reported the issue to the Ward Land Tribunal. The tribunal solved the issue in my favour and my ownership rights were affirmed.”
“In my village, Sakala, I am a Women’s Rights Committee representative leader. My role is to talk on their behalf. I am not happy at all when other women face many challenges especially domestic violence problems and they fail to get help. I try to help by advising them to present every problem they face to the concerned authority and in that case to the Maasai village council as this is the first ladder of leadership authority.
Many Maasai women are beaten by their husbands and fail to report to the concerned authority fearing their husbands, will beat them again and send them back to their homes. My role is to help those who fear to report their cases. I usually go with them and speak on their behalf. I have gained much knowledge through trainings on women rights and this has really given me the strength and authority to face men.
My advice to my fellow women is that, we should not keep quiet. Let us know we have our rights. Let us report any case of domestic violence to the responsible authorities. My dream is to take part in all decision-making processes and be chosen to represent my fellow women in the village council and even above. One day I wish to be a councilor to voice women’s issues which are often left aside during decision-making processes and developmental issues.
Thanks to PWC for enabling us to have our forum where we are free to present all issues affecting women”.
Strengthening Women's Rights, Empowering Communities: Women's Leadership Forums in northern Tanzania
Pastoralist women are some of the most marginalized people in Tanzania, lacking property and ownership rights, access to basic social services, and the ability to make decisions about their own lives. But this is starting to change.
This film produced by Maliasili Initiatives documents what appears to be the development of a social movement -- where pastoralist women are gaining a voice in decision-making processes, are owning land and property, and are successfully advocating for their own rights and the rights of their communities.
"My husband died when I was very young, I didn’t know anything, I didn’t know my rights. My husbands relatives took our 100 cows. The clan fought for me but I was only given back seven. I had to return to my parents home. I suffered but now I see widowed woman are not suffering in the same way, they go to PWC and find out what their rights are.
Relatives tried to marry off my daughter when she was 11 but I resisted. I went to PWC and my MP and the relatives stopped, they were scared they’d be put in prison for trying to marry a girl under 18. My daughter now has a qualification in animal husbandry. Education is a priority for me as I can see that girls who go to school understand their rights and people treat them differently. They have freedom to decide who to marry and what to do. PWC has sponsored another of my daughters. They're the only organisation in this district that's serious about girls education.
PWC has helped many women, and me personally, to promote our voices. If PWC ended women would become like orphans again, they wouldn’t have a place to run to."