The Women Information Window (WIW) was set up as part of the WIC in 2003 as a response to poor access to information for women in Tanzania.
The WIW is a unique service in the national territory that boosts women’s prospects at professional level and facilitates them to obtain chances they often miss due to difficulty of access, entitlement and enrolment.
This experience is based on an Italian positive practise of orientation and advice for women in need about job, learning opportunities and labour market access carries out at local, regional and national level with an efficient partnership between public and private sector.
The WIW offers consultancy to its clients aware that “different women have different lives with different questions and requirements”.
The main goals of the WIW are to protect women’s rights and promote gender equality by listening, advising and referring users and enable them to be informed and conscious about services, activities and realities of their area and find effective solutions to their problems. In fact, job searching, training and scholarship applications, information on free legal aid, health issues, entrepreneurial development and credit access request face-to-face consultation responding individual needs.
Along with delivery of pamphlets, conduction of personal interviews and follow up of the clients, the WIW personnel store information collected from national newspapers, websites and referral networks in a WIW database regularly update and available also on line.
WIW IN Dar-es-Salaam
The WIW relies on a wide network in the local territory and at regional and national level so to ensure an efficient referral system for its users. The WIW personnel are constantly informed and updated about services and activities carried out in the area where they work.
Since its inception the WIW gives particular emphasis on women’s economic empowerment, and promotes credit access opportunities among its clients, with a strong collaboration with credit agencies.
Among others, TAMWA, TAWLA, TGNP, WLAC, WILDAF, Women’s Dignity, LHRC , SIDO, VICOBA, House of Peace are some of the civil society organizations supporting the referral system of the WIW.
In collaboration with professionals from private sector and the three municipalities of Dar es Salaam, the WIW arranges also briefing sessions on different issues, such as labour market, employment, life skills, gender based violence and children rights, responding women’s demand of self-reliance and economic empowerment.
WIW at Local Level
In 2009, under the project "Enhancing women’s access to information in Tanzania: Expansion and Support to the WIC" the MCDGC decided to replicate some activities of the WIC by opening WIW in four regions of the country. Available funds allowed purchasing of equipment, such as PC set, printer, scanner and photocopy machine and appointment of two Community Development Officers to initiate this piloting experience.
Needs registered at the local WIWs are quite different from the ones banked in Dar es Salaam. Also, local WIWs receive more women’s groups rather than individual clients, and often encourage formulation of clients’ groups that can easily fit within social fabrics of rural Tanzania. Issues and requests collected at the WIW in semi-urban and pastoralist areas mainly claim lack of education and assets, especially for women; food insecurity due to low incomes and poor agriculture growth; distance from market and facilities; sexual reproductive health risks as per HIV-AIDS transmission or early pregnancy to finally report a dramatically high rate of domestic gender based violence.
In order to respond complicate situations that clients report, the WIWs rely on a close collaboration with village, ward and district officers as well as police and medical institutions present in the vicinity.
Due to remoteness, in some cases the WIW becomes a key gateway for women and more vulnerable members of the community to access information, advices and education that enable personal development.
WIW at Monduli CDTI
The CDTI in Monduli is a co-educational training centre located in a pastoral and agricultural community of Arusha Region, 25 km from the commercial and busy town.
The area is mainly inhabited by illiterate Maasai communities who are dramatically cut off from economical growth of the region
The WIW gives particular attention to Masaai women by promoting adults literacy programmes and encouraging their participation in the community development to respond the long lasting marginalization they face.
Through the WIW, rural women access entrepreneurial and health care trainings to improve their life condition and capacity to run income generating activities with appropriate knowledge of basic business skills and health risks behaviour that endanger their social and economic development.
The WIW supports its clients advising them on agricultural matters and livestock techniques assisted by local experts and institutions aiming at the formulation of animal husbandry and poultry rearing projects to move forwards economic deadlock.
Often, the WIW assists also women who report gender based violence addressing them to free legal services available at paralegal associations established in the area. As a good result of the sensitization carried out by the WIW amongst youth about health, education and life skills several Girls Schools/Colleges Clubs decided to replicate informal WIWs to spread information amongst their peers.
WIW at Rungemba CDTI
Since its establishment, the women’s only CDTI located in Rungemba, Iringa region, is characterized by curricula aimed to empower girls and fully achieve health and life skills development.
Located in an agricultural village fifteen kilometres from Mafinga town, in Mufindi District, the CDTI hosts also a community dispensary that benefit rural communities living in the area.
The WIW in Rungemba builds a network with district community development officers, hospital and dispensaries, banks, NGOs, paralegals and schools to offer a workable referral system for its users.
The WIW emphasizes the importance of capacity building in terms of better understanding how to overcome poverty related problems most of its clients suffer about. A great attention is given to the arrangement of training courses on HIV/AIDS, business entrepreneurship, maternal and reproductive health, voting rights promoted in collaboration with a wide network of partners. In particular the WIW facilitates women and HIV- AIDS positive groups’ access to credit by maintaining ongoing dialogue with financial institutions present in the district.
WIW at Bigwa FDC
The Folk Development College of Bigwa offers trainings courses on various skills and trades enrolling also disable youth. The women led management of the institute contributes to improve gender oriented curricula of studies and promote a dialogue about gender related problems amongst its students.
The WIW in Bigwa has a strong network with local stakeholders and fully participates in the arrangement of activities within the vivacious social fabric of Morogoro Municipality, where it is located.
Core activities of the WIW are formulation of women groups and promotion of their income generating activities through informative session on how to access credit and loans opportunities. During regular meetings and gatherings facilitated by the WIW, clients’ group members raise their awareness on women’s rights, health care, HIV/AIDS risks and prevention and economic empowerment. Nevertheless, the WIW promotes exhibition of women’s products and handcrafts enabling their visibility and access to the market.
Although the WIW mainly works with groups, many individual clients have also benefited by orientation and advices received at the WIW reporting a good number of successful stories regarding school enrolment, employment and family reconciliation.
Along with a programme of literacy for elders, the WIW carries on also a children’s corner at the FDC’s library to promote a culture of reading but in particular offer practical help to the women who attend services with their children and don’t have place where to leave them.
The success of the WIW in Bigwa inspired also other neighbour FDCs to undertake similar experiences in services for the community as for example the children’s corner.
WIW at Mamtukuna FDC
The Folk Development College of Mamtukuna is located on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro and suffers tough remoteness that characterized Rombo district at the border of Kilimajaro region with Kenya.
Some of the students enrolled at the FDC are single mothers living at the college with their children. Often these young women are unwary to carry on safe upbringing and ensure themselves economic stability.
The WIW assist them to undertake income generating activities for their self-sustenance and facilitate their access to information on loan management and bank services. A strong collaboration with existing SACCOS in the area supports the WIW in its service of mobilization for women who claim poor access to business development opportunities. Successfully, some of the WIW’s clients joined into entrepreneurial groups of decoration, catering and flowers production and report positive results since orientation and assistance received.
The WIW is also promoting a community response to a growing phenomenon of street children that marks the area bordering with Kenya. Regular meeting are held with women’s groups which gather to discuss solution and personal engagements in order to take care of abandoned children, promote reconciliation with families and sustainable response to the pandemic of AIDS that is endangering these communities.