WLAC: Improving Access to Justice Across Tanzania

After her father passed away, Bagamoyo agreed to marry a man she did not want to marry because her relatives told her she would have nowhere to stay if she did not. Bagamoyo started a farm with her husband and eventually opened a shop at home, but she was unable to bear children. After four miscarriages, Bagamoyo's husband brought a new wife home. He told Bagamoyo she could no longer stay with him, so she returned to her parents' home with nothing.

Then Bagamoyo heard about Women's Legal Aid Centre (WLAC) and asked them to help. WLAC explained to Bagamoyo's former husband how he had violated her rights. It was able to negotiate for a plot of land to be given to her. Because of WLAC, Bagamoyo was able to build a house on the land and ultimately live a peaceful life.

Every day, WLAC empowers women in Tanzania like Bagamoyo to attain their rights. The organization is dedicated to improving vulnerable populations' access to justice across Tanzania. WLAC provides legal aid services to women and children and community-based education on legal and human rights. It lobbies for change in discriminatory policies, laws, and cultural practices that promote and sustain gender-based violence.

Since its founding, WLAC has served over 400 children in conflict with the law, facilitated nearly 7,000 clients, supported 1,324 hotline clients, and represented over 110 women in court. WLAC has also aided nearly 900 refugee clients and earned an award from the United Nations Commission on the Elimination of Violence Against Women on communication submitted to Committee on Customary Inheritance in Tanzania.

Photo: WLAC staff with women at the Nduta refugee camp in Kibondo, Kigoma, Tanzania

NGOsource's Role

Since initially going through the equivalency determination (ED) process with NGOsource in 2016, WLAC has benefited from more access to flexible funding: It received two additional ED requests by another grantmaker. By working through our South Africa–based partner, Phambano, NGOsource supported WLAC with localized support in its local time zone.

WLAC's funders, like all NGOsource members, find themselves with easy access to over 3,000 NGOs in the NGOsource repository. In this way, NGOsource grantmaker members benefit from the due diligence carried out by others: Members can receive an ED certificate for an NGO immediately for only $250 when the NGO has already been certified by another grantmaker member.

Beyond the ED

WLAC's commitment to empowering women and vulnerable populations in Tanzania is just getting started. After the organization received funding from the equivalency determination process, WLAC's executive director, Theodosia Muhualo Nshala, explained that WLAC implemented a land and property rights program in Michenga and Ihanga village. The program enabled 32 couples to buy land with joint ownership, 17 women to purchase land through a women's empowerment group's revolving fund, and 7 women to secure land through inheritance. Theodosia notes that the "Women’s Property land rights programme was successful because it involved the community, both men and women, to develop the best way to protect women's and girls' rights on resource ownership, especially land." WLAC is putting its funding to good use as it continues to help its community secure its human rights. 

Top photo: WLAC executive director Theodosia Muhulo Nshala receives a certificate from the vice president of the United Republic of Tanzania, Honorable Samia Suluhu, at a celebration of 10 years of the Tanzania Female Police Network.The certificater ecognizes WLAC's contribution to the establishment of Gender and Children's desks at the police station.

All images used with permission from WLAC © 2019.