Dozens of women, wrapped in brightly colored kangas, some with babies strapped to their backs, stood beneath the shade of acacia trees in anticipation. Behind them, several hundred villagers gathered to witness this monumental event. This ceremony was the culmination of years of training, meetings, lobbying, and advocacy – something UCRT had been working towards for decades and something the women of Kiteto fought hard to see through. For the first time in history, the women of Kiteto District were granted Certificates of Customary Rights of Occupancy, giving them formal rights to the land they and their families have lived on for generations
Mr. Tamimu Kambona, the Kiteto District Council Director, handed out certificates to the women, offering them congratulations and encouragement.
With their land legally secured, over 50 Maasai women, mostly widows from Ngabolo and Ndedo villages, have a roof over their heads and can safely invest in economic ventures. After a series of land use planning seminars and good governance training, these women have the knowledge and resources they need to provide for themselves and their families.
Katrina, a member of the Women’s Rights and Leadership forum in Ngabolo Village said of “My proudest achievement so far is the unity we women now have. It gives us hope that now we can bind together to elect women to leadership positions. Our unity also supports each other from individual oppression – women are now stronger and safer in their own homes.”
UCRT’s Program Coordinator Edward Lekaita said the decision was made early on to secure women’s rights to own land in Kiteto, under the Land Act Number 5. “Our goal is to extend this project to other groups and villages as well.”
These certificates are extremely significant for pastoralist women across Tanzania as they remain highly vulnerable to violations of their land rights and other rights. This success represents the vast potential for social and political change in Tanzania when women are empowered to make decisions within their communities. We can’t wait to see what the future holds.
To date, UCRT has empowered over 80 villages to help them successfully secure 787,610 hectares of land.
Thank you to the Foundation for Civil Society for supporting this initiative.