United Republic of Tanzania: How a UNFPA-UN Women joint programme helps combat gender-based violence and promote bodily autonomy, with support from the Government of the Republic of Korea

08 Feb 2023

Young adolescent girls from Msalala District, residing in the Bugarama Ward, Tanzania, are members of the girls’ club supported by a Republic of Korea-funded UNFPA-UN Women’s joint programme. The programme helps combat gender-based violence and promote bodily autonomy. © UNFPA Tanzania/Warren Bright

BUGARAMA WARD, Tanzania — When Hilda’s husband started being violent towards her and their children, she turned to the Bugarama Knowledge Centre, in Tanzania’s Msalala district, for protection and support. The centre is supported by a UNFPA-UN Women Joint Programme that aims to help the United Republic of Tanzania in achieving gender equality and ending violence, with funding from the Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA).

At the centre, Hilda received psychosocial counselling and was informed of her right to receive support from social services and health care providers. In addition, she participated in community dialogues about gender-based violence.

Last year, Hilda became the first woman in the Bugarama ward to file a domestic violence case against her husband. “We hope that more survivors of gender-based violence will feel empowered to come forward and seek assistance,” said George Mwimboko, a service provider at the Bugarama health centre.

Hilda’s husband, Mwinyishehe, was arrested. While the judicial court trial was underway, Hilda and her husband attended marital counselling, and she  eventually decided to withdraw her complaint and reach an agreement with Mwinyishehe. Hilda’s story became a symbol of courage and resilience, and showed how seeking support and speaking out against gender-based violence in her community can create lasting change. After Hilda’s case, women in the Bugarama ward became more aware of their rights and joined forces to eliminate gender-based violence through community dialogue that where held during market days.

Since the KOICA-funded joint programme started in 2020, the women in Bugarama have actively participated in discussions at knowledge centres, which provide education on women’s rights and promote community-led solutions and actions for preventing and responding to violence against women.

The programme aims to advance gender equality in the Shinyanga and Singida regions, which are saddled with a high poverty rate and prevalence of gender-based violence and harmful practices, such as female genital mutilation and child marriage.

The programme addresses gender-based violence and child marriage through prevention and response services, and by promoting the economic empowerment of female farmers. The joint programme also supported the establishment of a one-stop centre, a crucial new resource for women and girls who have been subjected to violence. The centre offers specialized services to survivors of gender-based violence, including clinical, legal and psychosocial support.

In addition, the programme helped create 35 women’s and children’s protection committees, 22 at the village level, 12 at the ward level, and one in the district. It has also supported life skills-based education and vocational training: To date, 375 adolescent girls have been trained at the girls’ clubs with life-skills training such as tailoring, stationery, sewing or computer skills.

“The partnership we have with KOICA means we can create a better, more inclusive future for the women and girls of the United Republic of Tanzania, one free of violence”, said Mark Bryan Schreiner, UNFPA’s representative in the country. “With support from the centres, women like Hilda and her daughter have the information and services necessary to make decisions about their own bodies and their lives – including when and whom to marry, and whether and when to have children.”

As a longstanding partner of UNFPA, the Republic of Korea prioritizes advancing gender equality and empowering women and girls. In 2022, the Government of the Republic of Korea was among UNFPA's top 20 donors.

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