Project launch: EU joins HelpAge International in promoting and protecting older women's rights in Tanzania

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On 1st April 2015 HelpAge International will launch a two years project with funding from the European Union (EU) that aims at Promoting and Protecting Older women's Rights in Tanzania. This project is going to be implemented in Magu district, Mwanza Region by HelpAge International in partnership with Magu Poverty Eradication Rehabilitation Center (MAPERECE).

HelpAge International helps older people claim their rights, challenge discrimination and overcome poverty, so that they can lead dignified, secure, active and healthy lives. The European Union (EU) made this fund available through its European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) to tackle gender based violence that affects women of all ages. The EU provides about EUR 300,000 to protect older women from witchcraft related killings and violence.

Over the years there has been an increasing number of older people, particularly older women, persecuted for alleged witchcraft practices. According to the Legal and Human Right Centre 765 people, 505 of which were women, have been killed due to alleged witchcraft accusations in 2013 alone. Deep rooted cultural practices, harmful traditions that legitimize gender based violence and negative perceptions about ageing are among the causes of such heinous act perpetrated against older women. This proposed action will support local authorities, communities and civil society organizations to effectively promote and protect the rights of older persons in 10 villages in Magu District, Mwanza Region.

The project will work at the community level to improve awareness on older people's, and particularly older women's, rights. It will mobilise and train community volunteer paralegals, older women spokespersons and support older people's associations who will work with the local government authorities, leaders, influential individuals and the law enforcement bodies to provide legal advice, counselling and referral while ensuring victims access justice. At the national level the project will work with the relevant central Government authorities and law makers for better application of policies and laws that will protect and uphold the rights of older men and women to life. The project will collaborate with the Media who will be the change agents while ensuring older women's rights are integrated into wider gender and human rights debate.

It is expected that the project will provide lessons that will be used to scale up and replicate the approaches in various parts of the country.