Bristol-based charity launch appeal to support rural women in Tanzania

15Mar 2019
The Guardian Reporter
DAR ES SALAAM
The Guardian
Bristol-based charity launch appeal to support rural women in Tanzania

A Bristol-based international development charity is launching an appeal to support rural women in Tanzania to mark International Women's Day 2019.

Terrat village Women's rights leadership forum representatives with African Initiatives' programme officers

African Initiatives, which was founded in 1997 and works with the Maasai and other pastoralist communities in the country, has spent a number of years helping women to become financially independent.

Despite their traditionally heavy involvement in working the land and rearing cattle, women from pastoralist communities are usually denied information about their human rights and are denied the right to own land or livestock - the community's primary source of income.

Without this, women have little or no influence in their household and more widely, in their community.

 

“The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is #BalanceforBetter,” said Holly Burchett, African Initiatives’ fundraising officer.

 

“Our International Women’s Day Appeal will support some of the poorest women in the world to enjoy greater gender equality. Female economic empowerment is key to ending the cycle of poverty.”

 

African Initiatives has been working with local grassroots partner Ujamaa Community Resource Team to establish Village Community Bank (VICOBA) schemes so women can save money, access small loans to buy equipment and start up their own businesses.

Paulina lives in Simanjiro District and is married with seven children. She is a beneficiary of African Initiatives’ VICOBA project and has gained vital training in financial management and entrepreneurship skills.

 

As a member, she attends weekly meetings and pays a small membership fee, which is placed in a fund that helps local women in need and distributes business loans to women who dream of becoming entrepreneurs themselves.

 

She said: "My self-confidence has greatly improved thanks to the training and knowledge I have gained.

 

" Thanks to the VICOBA group I have been fortunate enough to be able to start my own small business selling maize and beans. I act as a role model for other women in my community because I am independent and a business owner, meaning I can provide for my family."

 

Paulina has also been elected as a representative of her local Women’s Rights Leadership Forum, which helps educate women about their human rights, giving them increased confidence to stand up for themselves and the women in their communities.

African Initiatives’ Fundraising Officer Holly Burchett said, “Our project improves women’s access to credit, their access to the means of production, and hence, the means of income generation.

"Economic empowerment allows women to contribute economically to the household and village, thereby improving their status within the family and their community too.”

 

“Please support African Initiatives’ International Women’s Day Appeal so we can give more pastoralist women like Paulina a hand up and drive better gender balance in Tanzania.”