At Inherit Your Rights we are fortunate to work with inspiring and passionate women who are determined to learn about their rights, advocate for them and spread this vital knowledge with others. This includes Mama Rehama, who not only runs her own shop but is a member of both her village council and local women’s forum, and is proud to call herself an Inherit Your Rights champion.
Mama Rehama first heard about Inherit Your Rights in 2015 and mobilised her fellow community members to get involved and participate in paralegal training. Thanks to Mama Rehama, since 2015 seven paralegal trainings have taken place in her community. These trainings have played a key role in building awareness and changing perceptions when it comes to women’s rights in the community.
“Before I did the Inherit Your Rights training I didn’t know a lot about laws and I also didn’t get a lot of trust from the other village council members,” said Mama Rehama. “I didn’t even know that there had to be women in the village council. After finishing the curriculum my mind has grown bigger and I feel a lot more confident.”
Through training with Inherit Your Rights, Mama Rehama and her community took part in a 16 topic curriculum which covered women’s rights, property law, domestic violence, wills, inheritance and more.
“All the subjects we learned about are so important because many women simply do not know their rights,” said Mama Rehama. “However the challenge is that many husbands in the community don’t want to acknowledge women’s rights to own property so this is a very important area where we must continue to raise awareness.”
Sadly in Tanzania, the customs or traditions of a community do not always protect a woman’s right to own or inherit property. However, there are statutory laws that give men and women equal rights to property ownership. Ensuring these laws are upheld and that women are informed and have a voice when it comes to inheritance and property, particularly after the death of her husband, is a key part of the learnings.
Mama Rehama continues to raise awareness and empower others by providing advice to women on their rights and ways they can exercise them.
Changing the mindset of certain members of the community can be challenging, but Mama Rehama is determined to find ways to slowly contribute to change. “Men can be tough but there are ways we as women can approach them wisely and speak about our rights and they will listen,”
Mama Rehama believes educating men and women together is a key part of this. She works with husbands and wives to help educate others and mediate on issues around women’s rights.
“I’ve tried speaking with women about how to talk to their husbands about these topics in particular, protecting property rights and the importance of partnering with their husbands to do this together.”
For many households in Tanzania, topics such as wills, inheritance and property rights aren’t discussed between husband and wife. This becomes problematic when a husband dies, and his wife is unaware of property ownership and her inheritance rights. In many cases, the husband’s family will claim and take property outright, leaving the widow without any support.
Mama Rehama brings her knowledge and voice to the Village Council and Women’s Forum to ensure women are heard and represented in cases such as these. Previously claims made by women or widows around property and inheritance were ignored or met with resistance. Many never even made a claim in the first place simply due to a lack of awareness of the right to inherit property and other Statutory Laws that protect women’s interests.
Now, with knowledge of their rights and how to exercise them Mama Rehama says women in her community have a new found confidence.
“Training and awareness of legal rights can change women, men and children to recognise their rights, know what they are doing and how to stand on their own two feet.”
In addition, Mama Rehama takes it upon herself to advise women in difficult situations of their rights and the avenues that can take to protect them and also meditates in marital disputes. Other community groups also direct women in need to legal advice to Mama Rehama. She also works with widows groups to help them find economic security while making claims for property that may have been taken after their husband’s death.
Do you know a community that would benefit from our legal rights training? Contact us today on +255 715 164 118 or email firstname.lastname@example.org