Developing a gender equity and social inclusion (GESI) training guide to reach vulnerable populations in Tanzania

October 23, 2023
Tanzanian government ministers, members of parliament and other stakeholders celebrate the launch of the GESI Training Guide. Credit: Aidan Tarimo/Pact

By Beatrice Sendegeya, WI-HER Gender Equality and Social Inclusion Specialist, Dr. Stella Mwita, WI-HER Senior Technical Advisor, and Annie Cameron, WI-HER Senior Program Manager

The government of Tanzania has made significant commitments to improve the health of vulnerable groups, including adolescents, children, women and the elderly, recognizing that when the needs of these groups go unmet, it exacerbates societal problems that affect everyone. In response, Ministerial Department Agencies established Gender Desk Officers and enacted policies to address violence against women and children and to facilitate gender integration in legislation and service delivery in Tanzania. While progress has been made, there are still opportunities to strengthen gender integration, particularly when delivering social welfare services to these vulnerable groups.

Adolescents, children, women and the elderly face additional barriers to accessing care, such as HIV testing and adhering to treatment if HIV positive. While this requires targeted and extensive support from their caretakers, families, and healthcare providers to providecare, these supportive networks and their implementing partners often do not have the knowledge, resources, or training to address the groups appropriately. This is why it is critical to integrate a gender equity and social inclusion (GESI) lens into service delivery.

In light of this challenge, the Tanzanian Ministry of Community Development, Gender, Women and Special Groups (MoCDGWSG) envisioned the development of a GESI Training Guide to incorporate GESI into all social welfare services, which encompasses all stakeholders who provide basic access to health, education, economic support and child protection services. To that end, this guide aims to ensure that the needs of socially marginalized and excluded groups are thoughtfully and intentionally addressed in government policies, programs and implementation approaches, resulting in equitable outcomes and inclusive approaches.

“This guide will outline how to incorporate gender balance into national social welfare services, policies, plans, and guidelines and across all career programs to ensure the most vulnerable groups are included as we provide welfare services to all groups,” said Amon Mpanju, Deputy Permanent Secretary, MOCDGWSG.

In collaboration with the Adolescents and Children HIV Incidence Reduction, Empowerment, and Virus Elimination (ACHIEVE) project, WI-HER, a leading gender partner, and Pact, prime partner for ACHIEVE, supported MoCDGWSG in developing this first-of-its-kind GESI Training Guide in Tanzania. The process involved designing the guide, pre-testing with key stakeholders, and translating it into Swahili before the guide received an official endorsement and approval by Tanzania’s Permanent Secretary of MoCDGWSG.

This guide is intended for partners, such as NGOs, civil society organizations (CSOs), and government stakeholders to integrate GESI across social welfare programs. It is a step-by-step tool that builds the knowledge and skills of social welfare partners and providers on: 1) GESI terminology and concepts, 2) Gender-Based Violence (GBV) and Violence Against Children (VAC), and 3) WI-HER’s iDARE methodology, which is a behavior change approach designed to improve social outcomes and foster community-led solutions.

In mid-2022, WI-HER piloted this training guide with 110 grassroots women and caregivers of orphans and vulnerable children; WI-HER educated them on the importance of GESI and trained them on how to use iDARE methodology to address challenges to social issues in their community. In December 2022, the Permanent Secretary signed the package, which marked an exciting milestone for championing GESI mainstreaming across Tanzania.

“Through iDARE methodology, we will reduce GBV, especially economic violence, against women and girls. In our community, due to traditional norms and beliefs, women and girls do not inherit farms. We will use iDARE methodology to provide education to the community and families to reduce gender inequality and barriers to women’s participation in economic activities,” said Hellena Boaz, caregiver of OVC, Iwindi Ward caregivers group.

“We are going to use the iDARE methodology to reduce children's undernutrition, which leads to stunting and underweight. This is due to lack of education on the proper nutrition using available food, [and] the inability to use simple gardens in our areas to produce nutritious food for a low cost,”said Magreth Kafunga, a grassroots woman from Swaya Ward caregivers group.

Following the printing of the guide, GESI training was conducted with social welfare providers from the Ministry, implementing partner groups, and CSOs, which guided them on how to use the package and disseminate its content through a series of cascade training. The training ensured that community groups and regional stakeholders throughout the country could immediately start leveraging the guide to inform their implementation efforts.

 “We would like the provision of social welfare services to take into consideration the needs of all social groups, not only the provision of social welfare services but also in the development of guidelines, laws, and legislation to take into consideration the social inclusion of the most vulnerable groups. It is our hope that the training guide will be an important tool to facilitate the attainment of gender equality… regardless of social and economic status, health, ethnicity and the location," said Flora Nyagawa, Technical Director, ACHIEVE Project.

The guide is a reflection of the partnership and commitment by key stakeholders to advance GESI in Tanzania and presents an exciting opportunity to continue advancing social outcomes for all. While the launch of this guide is an achievement worth celebrating, the cascading impacts across policy, legislation, and service delivery approaches will have the greatest effect on the lives and well-being of the most vulnerable. They are the ones who will benefit most from this GESI training guide, as it will aid in reducing health inequities for years to come.

“Disclosure of the HIV status of a child should be discussed by the health provider with a caregiver as early as possible. Most children living with HIV do not know their HIV status so they do not understand why they should take the medicine that leads to viral load suppression. Also, [we must] engage children living with HIV in decision-making. When children with HIV engage in decision-making, it helps minimize or reduce the repetition of high viral load because most caregivers make decisions for his/her children, such as early marriage, and family distribution of assets, but through GESI education, we will increase the participation of children living with HIV," said Sarah Daud Eslo, member of National Implementing Partner, Tumaini Community Social Services Organisation.