Young Women’s Christian Association: A Success Story in Tanzania

Posted on March 15, 2012 in GlobeScope, Society
Aim: To break the Silence on Gender-based Violence

Flora Robert, of Bunda, in a blue dress came in, carrying a baby and 4 other children at YWCA office in the Bunda district of Tanzania, and was shown the way to the YWCA Secretary, Sophia Elias Mgaya . Flora was chased away from her home by her husband after their eldest son sold a cow. She took along her children and had been sleeping under the bridges until she was rescued by YWCA (Young Women’s Christian Association).

YWCA helped in the reconciliation of the family by reporting the issue to the police, leading to the arrest of the husband. He was penalized for abandoning his family, and it all ended when the husband agreed to pay for everything, and subsequently decided to live with his family peacefully.

Shida Samweli, a young woman from the Bunda district, who after getting married at the age of 27 years, was forced to have sex by her husband during the time when she was sick with malaria. The behaviour of her husband was cruelly abusive which proved much detrimental to her health. YWCA helped her regain her energy and also to become financially independent. Later on, she was also supported in the process of launching her very own business start-up.

A new-born was abandoned by his mother immediately after birth. He was still wrapped in his placenta when he was found near the Anglican Church, Mwanza, Tanzania, where the YWCA’s Campaign Chairperson works. One day in the morning, the guard of the church heard a baby crying from the gulley near the church gate. He called for help and the campaign Chairperson Ms. Pauline Gasabile happened upon the scene and found that the baby was still alive. She then reported this incident to the other members of the TAMAR campaign and also to the police. The baby, Paulo, was taken to the nearest hospital for medical care and was provided with basic necessities like clothes and milk. Paulo is now under the care of Starehe orphanage centre located in Mwanza city. The TAMAR Campaign Committee now pays frequent visits to see how Paulo is doing; he now has hope for a better future.

Like this, YWCA has helped many women, children and families move out from the violence-based environment and given them better lives to live. The Young Women’s Christian Association of Tanzania is an old voluntary women and girl’s movement established in 1959 in Tanzania and having 17 branches in the country as of date. The Members of this organization are committed to the Christian purpose of love and service. It is designed to serve members and non-members, regardless of nationality and gender. YWCA is majorly supported by the NCA (Norwegian Church Aid), Tanzania, in terms of finance and also in economic justice issues.

The current campaign held in YWCA Tanzania is the TAMAR Campaign. This is an advocacy program that aims to break the silence on gender based violence with the focus on rape and domestic violence. It intends to mobilize women, men, media and faith-based organizations to say ‘No to Rape and domestic violence’.

Specific objectives of TAMAR Campaign

  1. To break the chains of silence and denial regarding prevalence and consequences of sexual and domestic violence and promote the voice of the religious institutions to speak against it.
  2. To build capacity of the religious institutions in providing support to victims and holding perpetrators accountable.

Expected results from the TAMAR Campaign

  1. Enhanced capacity of religious institutions, women, youth and men’s groups in addressing Gender based violence.
  2. Enhanced lobbying skills for religious institutions and for gender based violence victims.

Implementation of this National campaign has started in Arusha, Dar-e-salaam, Mwanza, Mbulu, Mara and Shinyanaga regions of Tanzania and it is expected to keep on growing.