By Our Reporter, Shinyanga

The Women in Law and Development in Africa (WiLDAF) has conducted capacity-building training for the staff and management of Rafiki SDO in Shinyanga on how to incorporate gender issues into the organization's programs and overall structure.

These training sessions are part of a project funded by the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida) through Save the Children-Tanzania. The project aims to enhance the capacity of civil society organizations, strengthen institutional systems, and amplify the voices of children to discuss, self-manage, and demand their fundamental rights. The project is implemented in collaboration with WiLDAF, RAFIKI SDO, and five other partners.

Speaking at the training, Acting Executive Director of RAFIKI SDO, Tangi Clement, expressed gratitude to WiLDAF for providing gender experts to impart this knowledge. She emphasized that the training has opened their eyes to how they address gender issues as an institution and how the organization's programs target gender-related challenges in the community, especially among project beneficiaries.

"We are very grateful to WiLDAF for providing us with a Gender specialist for this session. We, as RAFIKI SDO, are still learning in the area of Gender, and this is a crucial opportunity that we have received. We will ensure to implement what we have learned, including extending this knowledge to other employees who did not participate and our stakeholders such as district councils for further awareness," said Tangi.

She added that during the workshop, they agreed that there is a need for a review of internal policies and human resources guidelines to create an enabling environment for pregnant women employees to have rest periods and dedicated spaces.

Additionally, they proposed that the review of the Gender policy should align with the inclusion of Gender Equality and Justice issues for people with disabilities and breastfeeding mothers, ensuring they receive full support while engaged in the organization's activities. "This will require policy changes, submission to management and the board for their approval, but it's a positive thing, and we believe they will agree," she added.

They also outlined a strategy to prioritize advocacy in district councils to allocate a gender Responsive Budget. This would enable girls to study and stay safe both within and outside of school, providing lunch meals at schools to reduce absenteeism and early pregnancies, constructing dormitories, and facilitating secondary school girls to access sanitary towels.

WiLDAF facilitator, Deogratius Temba, expressed the organization's hope that significant institutional changes would occur after the training. He highlighted the participants' commitment to putting effort into institutional changes so that everything within the organization reflects a gender perspective.

He added that the training led participants to agree on a review of RAFIKI SDO's gender policy for 2022 and its Strategic Plan (2020-2024) to focus on gender equality and allocate an internal budget to address gender-related challenges. 

Eliud Mtalemwa, the Program Manager for Rafiki SDO in the Geita region, stated that the training helped the organization see itself more positively, recognizing how it manages gender issues and identifying gaps. He stressed the need to establish gender guidelines to govern and enforce gender-related decisions within the organization. "We have observed that women participate in our activities and decision-making positions, but we lack a guiding document that obliges us by numbers, specifying how many women should be in those positions. With the knowledge we have gained here, we will improve by revisiting our operational tools," said Mtalemwa.

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