Uplifting Women's Equality
By Rebecca Jacobs, Posted on March 7, 2021
Translating to “ingredients” in Swahili, the VIUNGO Project is a four-year collaborative effort between local and international organizations in Zanzibar. Community Forests and our partners are working to support small-scale farmers, empower women and youth, and boost economic growth and opportunity – key ingredients in a recipe for resilience! In celebration of International Women’s Day, we look at the project’s work to uplift women across Zanzibar.
Gender inequality in Zanzibar
Across Zanzibar, women bear the responsibility for providing food, water, and energy to households in rural areas and are more dependent on natural resources compared to men — meaning women disproportionately feel the immediate burden of the climate crisis. Moreover, women hold less than 20% of formal sector jobs and often have little or no financial independence from their husbands. Gender inequality and the associated lack of women’s economic agency impede both women’s rights to independence and the region’s wider prosperity.
The VIUNGO Project is committed to ensuring 55% of its direct beneficiaries are women. Community Forests and our partners are working closely with women leaders in the communities to improve gender equality through women-focused activities, training, and business and enterprise development opportunities. Women’s empowerment is fundamental to improving climate and community resilience in Zanzibar.
Women in Zanzibar often cultivate permaculture gardens to help feed their families. Over the years, Community Forests’ has helped train hundreds of women in climate-resilient agriculture, delivering hands-on training to help them increase and diversify their yields while simultaneously increasing their income and economic independence. The VIUNGO Project is building on this work by identifying income-generating activities for women farmers and providing relevant and appropriate training and capacity-building support. As women as especially unlikely to attend long or distant training sessions, VIUNGO is training teachers to be able to provide flexible, in-field training sessions to marginalised women in targeted communities.
Uplifting Women’s Voices
The VIUNGO Project is a collaborative project between Community Forests and other local and international organisations in Zanzibar. Leading women’s empowerment through the project is the Tanzania Media Women’s Association (TAMWA). Their mission is “to advocate for women and children’s rights by conducting awareness-raising activities for cultural, policy and legal changes in the society through the use of media.” Through TAMWA, the VIUNGO Project is running public-awareness campaigns to report on gender-equality issues in the region and providing gender-awareness training for journalists to report on women’s issues. The project is also meeting with community and regional leaders to address systemic barriers facing women’s economic empowerment within the horticulture sector.
“I feel so good, so confident; I have more respect and more money. I want my children and especially my girls to emulate my behavior. I believed that I am in control of my life, and that is how I achieved my dream. Today, I own my own house and a half-acre of land. This is a huge achievement.”
– Fatma Ali Hajji
There is no climate justice without gender justice. Empowering rural women economically creates cross-cutting benefits by improving child education, nutrition, and climate change resilience. We stand with and support women locally as we push for the policy changes that will ensure women have the resources, knowledge, and autonomy to thrive independently.
The VIUNGO Project is a collaborative effort between Community Forests International, Community Forests Pemba, the People’s Development Forum, and the Tanzania Media Women’s Association, with funding from the European Union in Tanzania.