CCT approach to address issues of women development, gender, and children uses the platforms of paralegals and IR VICOBA working in close collaboration with other stakeholders that include local government administrations. Field visits and data from all areas of intervention have shown that each of the IR VICOBA has a social fund through which they support and address various social challenges including Most Vulnerable Children (e.g. orphans). In the weekly IR VICOBA meetings, among things discussed are socio-justice issues such as advocating against FGM and other forms of violence against children.
The paralegals, of whom some belong to IR VICOBA address issues in women rights such as widows’ rights, gender based violence, and FGM. In addition, women compose of larger membership than men in all IR VICOBA indicating that women are involved and actively participating in development programs. Through the collective efforts of paralegals, IR VICOBA, local/village government authorities, local health centres, and churches, CCT has addressed FGM in Singida and Mara region. These are among the regions which are known for keeping this discriminatory culture. The CCT approach of combining advocacy/awareness raising and legal interventions (carrots and sticks) has led to positive results in addressing such. In Singida, Ntuntu Ward (Ikungi district), for example, the consultants met and spoke to 5 former “ngaribas” (those who carry out the mutilation), who through the use of legal threats by paralegals and continuous education and follow up have not only abandoned the practice but have become active advocates on the need to stop it. The women use the motto “khondowhondo” (never again) in sensitizing the community to stop FGM. By early 2016, 410 community leaders, traditional leaders, faith leaders, and IR VICOBA group leaders have been reached by information on advocacy against FGM in Singida and Mara regions.
As a result of the collective efforts led by CCT intervention, 2000 girls in Tarime district (Mara) escaped FGM in December 2015 – the season during which the girls are taken through the ritual. It was noted that in Singida, the practice was shifted to carrying out the mutilation secretly to girl-child within a few days of the birth of the child. In order to counter this, CCT is working with the health authorities and facilities (mainly health centres) in the districts to (1) ensure that mothers deliver in the hospitals so as to avoid babies being subjected to mutilation and other health risks; (2) to check and enforce anti-FGM laws. There is however still a concern that the some of the children could be subjected to mutilation when they have attained the age of 5 years and no longer attend clinics. This calls for continuous education and sensitization process that will ensure the change of attitude and cultural transformation. The IR VICOBA in the intervened areas has also empowered women economically. The membership of VICOBA is mostly women (64%) and thus they are the greatest beneficiaries of this financial arrangement. Although gender is not balanced (i.e. 50/50), having more women as members is a positive indication that women are actively participating in groups that not only enhanced their economic status but also social and cultural position. It is also in the evidence that when women are empowered, their families and society at large get more benefit and improved livelihood. Evidence from the field showed that the established IR VICOBA have contributed significantly in economic empowerment of women who are now able to expand their businesses, educate their children up to secondary school level, and improve their living conditions especially shelter. They are also active in addressing gender based violence issues. The members of IR VICOBA are also participating actively in protection of child rights especially fighting FGM.
In Singida school children both in primary and secondary are engaged in fighting FGM practice. Anti FGM clubs have been formed in most schools and they use various means including choirs, poems, debates, and other performances to create awareness and advocate for a stop to the practice and GBV. In Ikungi District, FGM Clubs have been established in 13 primary and 3 secondary schools in two wards. Advocacy against FGM/GBV has aroused enthusiasm and understanding among community members so much that issues are being reported sooner as they occur or even before they occur.
Strong Woman Program:
This is a special program under Development and Advocacy Directorate. It aims to ensure responsive and inclusive engagement of women and girls in political life from grassroots to national levels leading to equal access to justice for all and promote women’s economic empowerment and opportunities to participate in the labour market with sustainable access to economic resources. The program has two main objectives: 1. Ensure equal participation of women and men in political life 2. Ensure that women have full economic rights and equal opportunities to participate in the labour markets It is implemented in 4 regions that are among the regions with high rate of GBV, early marriage and school drop outs; Mara, Dodoma, Mbeya and Songwe regions.