Gender Festival Boosts Grantees, Movement Actors’ Knowledge on Women’s Rights
22 November 2023
As part of efforts to push for increased knowledge on women's rights agenda, Women Fund Tanzania Trust(WFT-T) recently invited and supported more than 100 participants including grantees, movement actors, and individual activists from different regions of Tanzania Mainland and Zanzibar to participate in the 15th gender festival held at TGNP grounds on the 7-10 November 2023.
The open forum that is organized by TGNP after every two years, brings together women from all walks of life and human rights stakeholders to share experiences and knowledge, and celebrate achievements, assess challenges and deliberate on strategies and agreed recommendations. This year's theme was “30 years of TGNP and Transformative Feminist Movement.”
Supporting the grantees to participate in the GF was aimed at providing them with an opportunity to join other women's rights stakeholders and share experiences and their work, hence increasing their knowledge on women's rights/feminist agendas.
This year’s festival saw grantees participating in different workshops, while others used booths to exhibit their work and share experiences with other participants.
In an interview, the invited participants hailed WFTT for the support, saying it was a huge opportunity for them to increase and widen their knowledge and understanding of feminists' agendas, from the local to global level.
The participants added that it was a good opportunity for them to learn various issues and also to educate other participants about the work they have been doing in the community.
One of the participants, Sophia Donald from SAWAU- Ukerewe said, “I sincerely thank WFT-T for the opportunity they gave me to attend the gender festival. It was my first time, but I learnt new things. I added a network of organizations and new people. The importance of uniting efforts in advocacy was also a big lesson to me. It was interesting to hear the story of how these women activists came together in solidarity which in the end made it possible to change some laws eg SOSPA. “From the environment workshop in which I participated, I learnt that climate change is a disaster that continues to affect us, and women are more affected due to the system, customs, and traditions that place them in a vulnerable position. It's a challenge that we can never run away (from it) but it needs resilience strategies.” _She went on to say that women from Zanzibar and Lindi shared their experiences in agriculture where they started agro-ecological farming by planting short-term crops and using native seeds. _
“I think this is a good practice that we can borrow and share with Ukerewe Women. Generally, I gained a lot of knowledge in this festival, which I will incorporate into our programs and strategies as an organization,” she added.
Another participant, Boniphace Elias from Haki Zetu hailed the WFTT-T for the opportunity to participate in this year’s festival. “The festival has provided our institution with a positive perspective on feminist agendas and connected us with other friendly institutions. It was an opportunity for us to learn how to build a strong network and a unified voice. I learned the importance of collective strength for activists in bringing about significant political, economic, and social revolutions for women. We will utilize this knowledge by investing more efforts and resources to improving implementation of our intervention to ensure we contribute effectively in bringing transformation to women and girls,” Elias said.
The Tanzania Domestic Workers Network (TDWN) expressed that the festival was a double opportunity for them to both learn and share their experiences with other stakeholders.
“This gender festival proved to be a big platform for us as TDWN. We used it for learning and also as a platform for sharing knowledge on what we do as a domestic workers network. We divided ourselves and participated in different workshops, just to ensure that we didn't miss anything. We added knowledge on feminists' agenda, issues of funding, and critical women issues in our societies. I participated in ICT workshop in which I learnt that Technology has the vital power to enhance social transformation. We were encouraged to use social media, radio, and TV to advocate for our agenda. The importance of documenting our success stories to influence the next generation was also a big learning point. A collective voice is more impactful than an individual one. We also learnt that despite the little resources we have, we can still do a lot of work using other strategies eg forming partnership, working with networks and coalitions etc. We are also happy because through our TDWN booth, we raised awareness about our network and our work. We reached 488 people who directly visited our booth, We distributed 288 contracts, 100 posters. Through this platform, we also formed new networks and connections with people and organizations interested in the work we are doing and wanted to join us. Generally, GF was a wake-up call to us as TDWN network. We realized that we have a lot of work to do,” explained Demitila Faustine, a representative of TDWN network
Juma Shabani from MACEGOPO Mafia said,_ “Through this festival, I've had the opportunity to learn the importance of research to assist us in implementing our activities (Community need assessment). We also used to blame WFTT a lot for not funding us adequately, but through the funding workshop, I discovered that it is not their fault. They also face challenges of funding with conditions and limitations that we were not aware of."_
Debora Elisha from Mbeya had this to say, "Participation in this festival has significantly increased my knowledge in working on women's agenda. I work with women's groups to empower them economically, so the knowledge I gained here will help me further build understanding within these groups regarding women's issues, including feminism, wellness, and the importance of unity and not giving up easily. I was interested in the herstory of women activists and their journey in bringing about change in previous years.”
Women Fund Tanzania recognized that GF as the feminist's platform is an opportunity for continuing to strengthen the women's movement in Tanzania, hence effective participation was necessary. It also aimed at empowering grantees and movement actors to continue influencing/critiquing narratives and discourses.