Posted on Jun 14, 2023
Women in Tanzania face a great challenge to get justice when they suffer abuse or when left widowed left to bring up a young family. Violence against women is common in Tanzanian society with 40% being forced to marry before the age of 18 years. Of these women, 44% will experience both sexual and physical abuse in their marriage, enabled when 60% of women, themselves, believe spousal violence is acceptable and even a demonstration of a husband’s love. 
While Tanzanian Law does recognise the rights of women to inherit or receive financial or property provision when abused or widowed, most women tend to be unaware of their rights and how to access their entitlement. The not-for-profit, “Inherit Your Rights” (IYR) has formed to help women with access to what they are entitled. The Rotary Club of Richmond Sunrise is helping sponsor part of that program
Women are not the only victims of violence and harmful practices in Tanzania: 70% of children report experiencing physical violence such as being punched, whipped, kicked, or threatened with a weapon like a gun or knife by a relative or authority figure, such as a teacher. So mothers often lack understanding of how they can fight back for their children.
Women are not the decision makers in Tanzanian society. Even when equipped with training, they often do not have the power to act to improve their life situation. 
Past President of the Rotary Club of Arusha Samantha Button (left) presents a cheque for funding from Rotary to Inherit Your Rights leader, lawyer Winnefrida Manyanga
Inherit Your Rights (IYR) is a non-profit that has discovered that educating women is an important part of the rights access process, but, alone, is not enough. Men have not previously been involved in this kind of training to understand the laws and the value of women rights. Men have even reported fearing the training and information women are receiving. So including men in education to empower them with the information needed to understand the rights of women, not as a threat, but as a value to them, their families and society.
The Rotary Club of Richmond Sunrise has sponsored a series of seminars for women to learn about their legal entitlement and assist them in applying for their legal rights. Run by a local lawyer in Arusha, Tanzania, Winnefrida Manyanga, a leader of IYR, the seminars have also given additional training to some women who have wanted to develop their skills further and act as advisors to local communities.
After a guest speaker on IYR addressed Richmond Sunrise members, the club recommended that IYR connect with Rotary in Tanzania to extend the reach of their work. The Rotary Club of Arusha enthusiastically joined forces with IYR and continues to work closely with them as the program expands and develops. Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) is now a major focus of the Tanzanian Government. IYR, together with Rotary, has been instrumental in assisting with the implementing of DEI in communities in the Arusha area.
The program has expanded to provide training on gender equality for both men and women and on safeguarding children and women as family level: improved understanding of women’s rights, decreased prevalence of violence against women, the need for women to claim their rights and care and wellbeing for their families.
So far the program has reached 225 women, 150 men, at least 600 children and 15 key community leaders from three different wards around Arusha.