Tanzania is a relatively stable country in East Africa, unlike many of its neighbours, such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Burundi. It has provided a safe haven for hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing conflict.
In spite of its stability, the situation for women in Tanzania is still extremely challenging. Life expectancy for women is a very low 53 years, and levels of political participation are very low – women hold just 8.3% of seats in parliament. 64% women are illiterate, and as in other countries, women are disproportionately infected and affected by HIV – 66% of HIV positive adults are women. FGM affects up to 88% of girls in certain regions.
The situation for refugee women in Tanzania is particularly difficult. The 1998 Refugee Act and the declaration by the Government of Tanzania that Tanzania becomes a ‘refugee free zone’ have made the position of already vulnerable refugees, more than half of whom are women and children, even more precarious. The intensification of the repatriation process has led to closure of refugee camps and the services they provide. Hundreds of thousands of refugees have been affected, and whilst some have returned to their countries of origin, many remained and over 100,000 refugees are now squeezed into the two remaining camps.
Levels of sexual and gender based violence in both of the camps continue to be high. aA assessment done by UN High Commission for Refugees between January and June 2010 in Mtabila and Nyarugusu refugee camps showed that a total of 295 incidents of rape and other forms of gender-based violence were reported in that period. In addition there are enormous social problems in Nyarugusu camp including harmful traditional beliefs and practices, ethnic conflict, war effected behaviour, traumatised and vulnerable unaccompanied children.
Womankind’s work in Tanzania
In 2011, Womankind took forward several projects from One World Action, an NGO which underwent a managed closure. As such, Womankind’s work in Tanzania is currently limited to one project which addresses the situation of women refugees.
One World Action had been working with the Women’s Legal Centre in Mtabila and Nyaragusu refugee camps since 2008 with support from the Baring Foundation. Building on the success of the first three-year project in the camps, with our partner Women’s Legal Centre we are working on prevention and response to the high levels of violence against women in both camps.
Our achievements in Tanzania
- during the first three-year project, Womankind’s partner WLAC succeeded in establishing two fully operational paralegal units. in two refugee camps as well as a fully operational WLAC legal aid office in Kasulu.
- All three units are providing legal advice, counselling and referral to hundreds of survivors of gender-based violence each year
How you can help
£11 could buy a pair of wellies and other essential equipment for a volunteer paralegal. Can you help to kit out a paralegal in Tanzania?