Tanzania has made recent efforts to change its national policies by granting women equal legal rights. However, local customary laws often counteract this progress, preventing women from owning and inheriting land, protecting themselves from domestic violence or staving off acute poverty in the case of spousal death. The conflicting macro and micro policies of legal and customary law complicate womenâ€™s social development and have created gaps between the national and local legal processes.
Local womenâ€™s advocacy non-government organizations (NGOs) are attempting to address these disparities through a variety of programs in culturally diverse regions of the country. Programs are currently implemented in the areas of rural education and social mobilization, media campaigns, village workshops and local government trainings in womenâ€™s legal rights and representation. In urban areas, there are multiple legal aid clinics where women can receive free legal advice and counseling on their avenues of recourse in multiple legal contexts. Throughout the rural regions of Tanzania, organizations are sponsoring village paralegal training to empower rural women to understand their rights and act on their own self-interest as they negotiate customary law.