The Pastoral Women’s Council
Empowering Women to Improve their Livelihoods, Their Communities, and Their Environment
The Pastoral Women’s Council helps marginalized pastoralist women in northern Tanzania earn greater income, get a quality education, and secure rights to their land. They are a unique grassroots organization with a membership of 5,000 pastoralist women across 90 remote villages. PWC focuses their work on three key areas: helping women secure individual and community land tenure rights; access to quality education; and women’s economic empowerment. Their work to empower women and girls in some of northern Tanzania’s most important natural landscapes is a key element of the kind of broader social change required to sustain natural resources in Tanzanian communities.
PWC’s ability to achieve real social change in pastoralist communities is based on its structure as a grassroots membership organization, combined with a focused set of programmatic interventions.
Women’s Economic Empowerment
A key goal for PWC is to create new economic opportunities for its members. It has piloted innovative programs such as the Women’s Solidarity Boma, which runs a revolving livestock loan scheme in Loliondo. PWC’s economic programs have grown rapidly in recent years, with total savings held by economic empowerment groups nearly doubling from 2016 to 2017, when they reached the equivalent of $255,000.
Total Savings from Economic Programs
Community-level organizing is also a key to PWC’s work and economic empowerment strategies. In 2013, PWC helped women in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area create their own community-based organization. This has provided women in this area with a key new platform for negotiating around livelihood issues and receiving external support. For example, in 2017 women’s empowerment initiatives received 110 million Tanzania Shillings from the governing Ngorongoro Pastoral Council (NPC), a five-fold increase from the previous year. The NCAA and NPC are also implementing a food security strategy, which was a key objective of these women in order to address one of the greatest challenges in the area.
PWC has gone from sponsoring girls’ education to running its own secondary school and education programs across two districts. A key goal for this work is improving the quality of education and enabling more girls to advance to higher education. From 2016 to 2017, the secondary school (Form 4) pass rate in eight targeted secondary schools increased by 27%.
Women’s Rights and Leadership
Through Women’s Rights and Leadership Forums established by PWC, over 240 women have secured individual plots of land, improving their own and their families’ food security.
In 2017, over 500 women collectively secured ownership of two pieces of land where they can now undertake eco-friendly income-generating activities.