Women’s empowerment

by Community Forests International on August 25, 2017

13% of women in Tanzania have no say in how their earnings are spent. Photo: Rice farming in Minyenyeni, Pemba, Tanzania


We’re asking for your help to take action and get training for four women leaders in Pemba on gender equality and sustainable development!

Last week Forests Intl. and our partners in Pemba came across a rare opportunity to directly address one of the biggest challenges we face in our work – advancing women’s empowerment. The opportunity was unexpected, and we need support now to act on short notice.

And we really need to take action - Tanzania ranks 129th out of the 188 countries listed on the United Nations Gender Inequality Index (Canada is 18th in case you were wondering) [1]. 84% of women in Tanzania work but only 58% get paid. Of those 58%, 13% have no say in how their earnings are spent. [2] Sadly, that’s just the tip of the iceberg on the inequalities women face in Tanzania.

Gender inequality holds all of us back all around the world, especially in places like Pemba, Tanzania. So many of the social and environmental problems we struggle with alongside our Pemban colleagues are in one way or another linked to inequality. And like all root problems, there’s no easy solution.

We make sure that more than 50% of the people we work with in Pemba are women, and we design our activities to increase women’s economic independence wherever possible. The results of these efforts are starting to show. For example, 50% of the women we work with today completely control the income they make. This is far from perfect – we still have a lot of work to do - but it’s a huge improvement over the national averages and we’re proud of our impact.

Fig.1  - Women (%) who control the income they make from Forests Intl. supported sustainable livelihood initiatives.

The number one reason for this success are the women leaders on our local team: Siti Makame, our Agriculture Officer who helps hundreds of women every year establish thriving market gardens for food and income. Naushat Salim, our bookkeeper, youngest team member, and future CFO now forcing all the old boys out of complacency. Rehema Alawi, a civil engineer turned Alternative Energy Officer in a place where there are literally no other women working in skilled trades. And Maryam Sharif, someone with no formal training who’s been there from the ground up and holds it all together on our management team today as Office Manager.

Last week we were invited to send delegates to a 4 day event on mainland Tanzania organized by several women’s rights organizations with the theme of Transforming Oppressive Systems for Gender Equality and Sustainable Development. The event is an open forum for activists to share experiences, celebrate successes, and assess challenges ahead. Naturally, we want to seize this opportunity and have Siti, Naushat, Rehema, and Maryam represent our organization at this important event. It’s a simple way to contribute not only to the professional development of our team but also to advance the larger issue of women’s empowerment in Pemba, and more broadly in Tanzania. Can you help us send them to this event?

Right now, we need to raise roughly $1,800 to pay for travel, accommodation, and registration for our four employees. It’s not a huge amount of money but we run a lean operation. Will you help us make this happen? It’s a simple way to make impact on an important issue, and will make real, lasting change for women in Pemba.


Please consider making a charitable donation to the cause and share our story with others to help us reach our goal!


Tuko pamoja - we are together.


[1] United Nations Development Program: Human Development Reports. 2016. Table 5: Gender Inequality Index

[2] National Bureau of Statistics, Tanzania 2016.

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