Male chauvinism, where men are treated as more important than women, is still widespread amongst the Maasai community, it has been learnt.
However, the resilient culture is currently under pressure, as women reportedly are slowly starting to claim equal rights in land and other properties.
Ololosokwan villager Nairri Parakwo from Ngorongoro district feels that there are some oppressive cultures like the one known, as ‘economic apartheid against women’, which should be abandoned.
“A living example of the oppressive Maasai culture is men chauvinism, where women are not allowed to own any property, including land,” she said.
Parakwo said without land women have not been able to engage in meaningful economic activities like agriculture, business and livestock keeping because they need land.
Malambo villager Ndawasai Naitisile said that women have been sidelined in decision making like negotiating deals with prospective investors.
“Not a single woman is a signatory in any investment in this area today. All contracts, with regards to investments, have been sealed by men,” she noted.
Parkipuny Saibulu said that the Maasai culture define woman as a tool for taking care of family. “Traditionally, it’s impossible for a woman to own land, livestock and other resources in Maasai community. Women are vested with home chores,” he noted.
Aware of the situation, the Ujamaa Community Resources Team (UCRT) has embarked on a one-year project with an eye to advance the land rights for pastoral women in northern Tanzania.
UCRT gender officer Paine Eulalia Saing’eu said the project would specifically help women in forming women leadership forums and also train them on land laws at the grassroots level.
“So far, almost all villages in Ngorongoro have been covered and nearly 148 women leadership forums have been formed to spearhead the diplomatic campaign to claim their rights,” she noted.
UCRT hopes that, through women leadership forums in the communities, women voices could be heard in the corridors of power.
“Starting a women’s leadership forum is an initiative to recognise women’s capacity in various decision-making machinery,” commented Simon Alakara, a UCRT field officer.
He said their training package covers the Land Act number 4 and 5 of 1999, Land Dispute Settlement Act number 2 of 2002, Local Government – District Authorities Act number 7 of 1982, Land Use Planning Act number 6 of 2007.
The UCRT is also working to assist a total of 19 women from Hanang to get title deeds for their lands.
The project is expected to reach nearly 400 women in Ngorongoro, Simanjiro, Kiteto, Monduli, mbulu, karatu, Hanang, Arumeru and Longido districts.