Welcome to Part 2 of our May 2023 Inspirational Interview with Maanda Ngoitiko, co-founder and Executive Director of the Pastoral Women’s Council (PWC) in Tanzania.
As a Maasai woman and grassroots leader, Ms. Ngoitiko has been instrumental in increasing the agency of tens of thousands of indigenous pastoralist and agro-pastoralist women and girls to know and exercise their rights. She is recipient of the Paul K. Feyerabend Prize, a nominee for The Guardian International Development Achievement Award, an African Visionary Fellow and a Grassroots Champion of Segal Family Foundation.
In this part of the interview, Ms. Ngoitiko talks about her organisation’s role in ensuring a female desk officer is available at every police station in the country to help victims of gender-based violence, and looks ahead to their plans for the next five years.
Part one of this interview was published 7 May 2023.
All photos are courtesy of Pastoral Women’s Council.
6. Since 1997, what sort of impact has PWC had on Tanzania’s approach and wider attitudes towards VAW in general?
PWC has been working closely with other key stakeholders in Tanzania to prevent and respond to VAW. We have collaboratively pushed a legally binding process of having a female police desk officer at every station across the country.
The women’s-desk officer will assist an affected woman to report a crime, ensure she has access to the service and is not oppressed by the alleged perpetrator or his family members. The information recorded will help the woman take her case to court.
Women’s desk officers can also be called on to help rescue highly vulnerable survivors of domestic violence from continuingly abusive situations in sometimes extremely remote areas. A women’s desk officer is seen in this video clip of the police women’s desk officer advocating for an end to VAW at a community meeting promoted by PWC)
7. How do you think men and boys can help to end violence against women?
Men and boys need to be empowered (for example, through our social norms transformation project) to see the potential of collaboration with all family members including women and girls, and to raise awareness on issues of VAW.
Educated men and boys, as informed champions of women’s rights, can become positive role models for other men and youth. They can openly support ending VAW and practise the same in their own daily lives.
Men can also commit to educating their daughters as well as their sons and change their preference for marrying only girls who have undergone the illegal and brutal rite of passage that is female genital mutilation (FGM).
They can advocate for FGM to be abolished in their community and help form new positive rites of passage for girls and young Maasai women while encouraging their wives and daughters to become educated and economically empowered.
8. Tell us about PWC’s plans for the future. What campaigns, programmes, or projects do you have coming up in the next 5 years?
PWC plans to scale our VAW work to reach across communities and deepen our engagement with allies, rights holders and duty bearers. Together, with our growing number of members, allies and strategic partners we will:
- positively transform social norms, behaviours, attitudes and practices, through community mobilisation, group education, public campaigns etc;
- make environments and public spaces safer for women and girls by preventing sexual harassment and all forms of violence in schools, work environments, transport hubs, etc;
- empower more women and girls through increased resources, skills and capacities to prevent or escape from violence, through life-skills training and economic and social empowerment initiatives;
- increasingly influence systemic change through reforms of public policies, laws and budgets to enhance prevention and response of VAW;
- build the capacity of women and girls to exercise leadership as agents of change, human rights defenders, community leaders, etc. taking an active and public role in ending VAW.
9. How can The Pixel Project’s supporters engage with and support PWC’s efforts to stop violence against women?
PWC is seeking additional strategic partners, networks and allies who can provide financial, technical and advocacy support to drive the following outcomes: improved access for women and girls to essential, safe and adequate multi-sectoral services to end VAW; improved prevention of VAW through changes in behaviour, practices and attitudes; increased effectiveness of legislation, policies, national action plans and accountability systems to prevent and end VAW.
The Pixel Project’s supporters can help us build out our network of allies by amplifying our grassroots voices and bringing member experiences to life for international audiences through greater online promotion of our member stories and our best practice solutions.
They can also introduce us to new strategic partners to scale our interventions and ensure our innovative and holistic approach to ending VAW reaches everyone in our community, giving even more vulnerable women and girls a chance to join this movement and benefit from its solidarity to end VAW.
10.In your considered opinion, how can we end violence against women for good?
Using a holistic community driven approach, we believe that:
If men and women monitor and act on gender-based violence, women’s and girls’ rights violations and effect positive broad social norms change
If these women and girls are supported to enhance their voice and agency in leadership and decision-making at household and community levels
If local and district government and law enforcement work collaboratively with women and other community stakeholders to prevent and respond to VAW
Effectively implement positive social norms change and women’s empowerment policies and programmes to enhance socio-economic justice
Systemic barriers that hinder gender equality and women’s empowerment within these communities will be addressed
Ultimately pastoralist women and girls in northern Tanzania will fully enjoy their rights, attain their full potential and their communities will achieve positive social change and sustainable and equitable development, including eliminating all forms of VAW.