In May 2010, a delegation of Fordham Law students and professors collaborated with local NGOs to investigate women’s access to adequate housing in Tanzania’s urban areas. The delegation interviewed more than 500 residents of informal settlements, the majority of whom were women, in Arusha, Dar es Salaam, Dodoma, Moshi, and Morogoro. Repeated throughout the interviews were stories of and concerns about women’s inability to secure and maintain adequate housing, an issue exacerbated by pervasive gender-based violence, HIV/AIDS stigma and discrimination, extreme poverty, and poor or nonexistent provision of basic services in urban settlements.
In addition to a report that documents these issues extensively, which is being published in the Fordham International Law Journal, the team undertook a follow-up project in an effort to respond in an effective and sustainable way. Collaborating primarily with UNFPA and House of Peace, Tanzania’s only domestic violence shelter, the group developed a peer education training program that focuses on gender-based violence, HIV/AIDS stigma and discrimination, and women’s land rights. The students returned to Tanzania in November 2010 to conduct peer education training programs with women representatives of the Arusha Women’s Legal Aid & Human Rights Centre, the Juhudi Women’s Group (HIV/AIDS support), the Tanzania Women Land Access Trust, and House of Peace. Trainees received certification in the program and are now conducting their own trainings throughout Tanzania, increasing awareness of women’s rights among their communities.
Documents developed in conjunction with the follow-up program are available in both Swahili and English, including the full training curriculum and a “know your rights” brochure (English/Kiswahili) with information on how to contact local legal aid providers. It is our hope that other groups in Tanzania will find these materials useful.