This August, TrustLaw, the Thomson Reuters Foundation’s global legal pro bono service, convened leading women’s rights organisations for a Legal Working Group in Dar es Salam. The event brought together a group of key international and grassroots organisations in Tanzania to discuss how legal pro bono can strengthen their work on gender equality.
In recent years, the Tanzanian government has formally prioritised gender equality and women’s empowerment through its National Plans of Action, which seeks to end violence against women and include a gender lens in national and regional frameworks. However, despite this affirmative action, women and girls in Tanzania continue to be in a vulnerable position. Certain government policies and enduring traditional practices leave women and girls in Tanzania exposed to violence, discrimination and excluded from basic human rights.
TrustLaw is committed to supporting NGOs and social enterprises who work for greater recognition and enforcement of women’s rights. During the Legal Working Group, participants discussed the greatest legal challenges they faced in Tanzania and collaborated on legal research opportunities which can be facilitated through TrustLaw.
Rachael Boma, of UN Women Tanzania, said: “It was a great pleasure being part of very progressive discussions which will benefit Tanzania and to a large extent, benefit women in Tanzania. UN Women will benefit from the collaboration with TrustLaw [and the] Thomson Reuters Foundation to make use of legal research reports and guides as powerful advocacy tools to ensure furtherance of gender equality and women’s rights agenda in Tanzania including on legal and policy reform.”
Shalom M. Ndiku, TrustLaw Africa Legal Programme Manager, said: “It was fascinating to facilitate such a vibrant conversation. It was difficult not to keep the discussion going for the rest of the day. I look forward to developing various research projects, collaborating with these amazing organisations and witnessing the impact that legal research can have.”
“Legal research is vital as it forms the basis of most of our advocacy work on women’s rights,” added Khadija Mrisho, Land Tenure Analyst at Landesa.
The Tanzanian Legal Working Group is part of a larger effort by the Thomson Reuters Foundation to strengthen women’s rights globally through legal pro bono. In March, the TrustLaw team in Europe gathered key women’s rights organisations in Paris to discuss how pro bono legal research could support their work and advocacy efforts to advance women rights in France.
Elodie Tuaillon-Hibon, of the Association européenne contre les Violences faites aux Femmes au Travail, said: "We were thrilled to discover TrustLaw in Paris. It will allow us to get right into the issues of comparative law, and to get more specific tools in order to defend women's rights and to fight for their integrity. We are very grateful to have the opportunity to work with global law firms around different subjects."
Through the French Legal Working Group, TrustLaw has already developed five research projects that cover an array of issues such as sexual harassment, the legal definition of rape and sexist advertisements.
Giulia Corinaldi, Global Head of Programme at TrustLaw, said: “There is nothing that I enjoy more than taking part in discussion in different countries on how to find an actionable solution to strengthen women’s rights. The global power of TrustLaw is used as its best in this effort to support local women rights movements around the world.”
Click here to find out more about TrustLaw's work on women’s rights.