“Many girls flee their homes with nothing more than the clothes they were wearing,” says Apaisaria Kiwori, as she instructs the designated cooks to stir the pots of red kidney beans and rice for dinner. Kiwori is the head matron of the only safe house in Mugumu, Serengeti, in the Mara region of north-western Tanzania that takes in young girls escaping child marriage, domestic abuse and sexual assault; but primarily girls who are escaping female genital mutilation (FGM).
In three Women’s Centres supported by UN Women in Tanzania, women refugees find safe spaces to network, learn new skills and recover from the trauma of war and sexual violence. Many have picked up new trades and advocate for their own rights. Some have found new family and new lives.
Mpawenayo Seraphine, 38 years old, walked over 60 km with her husband and six children to reach the Tanzanian border from Rutana, Burundi in September 2015. They were fleeing the escalating violence in her native village.
It is election week in the United Republic of Tanzania, and more than 12,000 candidates from Mainland Tanzania and Zanzibar—including 1,039 women—are running on 25 October for the Parliament and the Zanzibar House of Representatives, local District Council and the Presidency.
Tanzanian law provides for “special seats,” with 30 per cent reserved for women appointed by political parties, based on proportional representation. However, now more than 1,000 women are claiming their space, contesting in their own right through their constituencies.
Women form a large proportion of agricultural labor force in sub-saharan Africa and thus play a vital role in ensuring family nutrition and food security. A new study measuring the economic costs of the gender gap in agricultural productivity in three African countries — Malawi, Tanzania and Uganda — provides further evidence that reducing the gender gap translates into significant poverty reduction and improved nutritional outcomes.
“For a long time, water was a constant problem in our village, and we women definitely felt the impact,” explains 29-year-old Maria from Kingolwira, a small village in the mountainous region of eastern Tanzania. “Especially during the dry season we had to walk for eight hours to reach the river [in the Uluguru Mountains], which was contaminated. You could get diarrhea and a stomach ache if you drank it. Children were dying and there was a lot of conflict in our community, because everyone was trying to secure enough water to take care of the household.”
“You need to join forces if you want to stand strong,” explains Batuli Massawe, a 46-year-old mushroom farmer who has become a respected entrepreneur due largely to training and solidarity lending in the community of Morogoro, 190 km west of Tanzania’s capital.