By Dr Ananilea Nkya
This is due to the fact that “funding to women’s right organizations has fallen for more than half over the past 11 years today,’’ shows brief desk study by Women Fund Tanzania trust (WFT-T) entitled Shifting Power to provoke change for inclusive development through feminist funding.
The decrease of funding for women’s rights organizations (WROs) has had a consequences towards efforts meant to effect social change.
As Mary Rusimbi, the founder and former Executive Director of WFT-T says “funding is crucial in building equality in a society because transforming systems, laws and cultures that undermine women rights takes a long time.’’
Several leaders of non-governmental organizations say often donors fund short term projects. Yet, in reality, social transformation cannot happen in a few months as it takes long time to change laws, society behaviour and deep-rooted cultures.
“Our organization is five years old now, most of our donors fund short-term projects longest one year but not bucket funding,” said Clemency Mombeki, Executive Director of Door of Hope Tanzania based in Mtwara. The organization deals with, among other things, community sensitization on women’s rights to ensure inclusive development.
Mombeki add: “Even the two donors we have had, who funded us for more than one year, gave us very little funding every year to be invested in multi-activities that could affect change in behaviour, traditions and practices that undermine women’s right and dignity”
The Door of Hope Tanzania chief executive and feminist gave an example of a case whereby because of lack of basket funding, their organization had to fundraise from the public to be able to pay for emergency medical treatment of a woman, Fadhina Omari from Tandahimba district who lost her two hands in a domestic violence.
According to Mombeki, the woman who was aware of her rights defied a practice called ‘’funga nyumba’’ whereby after husband and wife toil together and acquire wealth, the husband divorces his wife and forces her and their children to get out of marital home for good with nothing.
Speaking about funding for women and girls’ rights agenda, Executive Director of Msichana Initiative Rebecca Gyumi, concurs that funds directed to this agenda is very little adding “young women’s funding support is even minimum.’’
Gyumi says WROs are facing funding problem because those who signed commitment to ensure countries around the world attain gender equality “do not walk their talk by putting their funding resources where their words are’’ and they think social transformation happens in a short time.
Gyumi gave an example showing that change takes time by citing a case she initiated by using her own money to file and pursue a case in the High Court of Tanzania in January 2015 against article 14 of Marriage Law of 1971 which allows a girl of 14 years to get married with her parents’ consent.
Gyumi says it was after the court ruled against the article in July 2015 that some development partners started showing interest to popularize the court decision. “We had two years support from Voice- the Netherlands Foreign Ministry Facility to popularize the decision and to ensure the decision is legislated.’’
However, she says, a few months later after the High Court’s decision, the government of the late President Dr John Magufuli appealed to the Tanzania Court of Appeal to challenge the ruling.
According to Gyumi, with the little funding provided they pursued the case in the Court of Appeal since 2017 and engaged a panel of advocates whose charges are low as charity because she could not afford the High Court rates and in 2019 the Court of Appeal made decision in favor of the High Court decision.
“So I am not able to say when the decision will be legislated’’, she says. But it is possible for the decision to be legislated in the near future if the issue is pursued through collective efforts of all human rights organizations in the country through engagement with the high level government officials, the Ministry of Constitutional and Legal Affairs and Members of Parliament.
Getting the High Court Decision legislated is vital for national development because the Tanzanian government is supposed to protect all children by ensuring that both girls and boys have equal opportunity to be educated and protected from sexual exploitation in the pretext of marriage.
Importantly, the funding ecosystem needs to change to ensure that the funds that flow from the northern donors to southern civil society organizations is increased and directed straight to WROs. Also, international organizations and donors need to shift from funding short term projects to long term programs that can bring about change.
Other WRO leaders whom this writer spoke to complained about insufficient funding to their work include the executive director of Tanzania Women Initiative Development Organization (TAWIDO), executive director of Wanawake katika Jitihada za Kimaendeleo (WAJIKI) and Coordinator of eEimisha, Sophia Logilahe, Janeth Mawinza and Debora Mwanjanje, respectively.
One of the strategies these three organizations use is information approach to enable communities understand, among others, issues of sexual corruption (sextortion), gender based violence and women’s social, economic, and political rights.
They all argued that changing communities’ regressive cultures and practices takes time and it requires continuous funding to train, sensitize, support, engage with several stakeholders and pursue cases to the end.
Therefore, as we approach the end of Sustainable Development Goals 2030, it is important for funding actors both at international and national levels to ensure more funds flow down to national and grassroots WROs and the organizations’ engage in programmes that can result in social change.
Ananilea Nkya is a PhD holder on Tanzanian news media engagement with national development issues. She can be reached at 0796 400402.
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Publish date : 2022-11-05 05:54:51