EMPOWERING WOMEN IN TANZANIA
Your complete source on everything Maisha! Our goal is to make all materials on a programme easily accessible in one place. If you are aware of additional resources, please contact us.
Maisha (‘life’ in Kiswahili) is a social empowerment programme designed to reduce women’s experiences of intimate partner violence (IPV) and increase gender equality in relationships. The programme encourages reflection and debate on gender norms, builds relationship and economic skills, and empowers women to safely challenge violence and improve their relationships and individual well-being.
The programme consists of a 10-session participatory training curriculum, led by two trained female facilitators and delivered to participants of established microfinance loan groups. It is coordinated by BRAC Tanzania, a microfinance nongovernmental organisation. Each group consists of roughly 20 women.
In a cluster randomised controlled trial, women in microfinance loan groups were assigned to either the 10-session Maisha intervention or a control group. The trial showed that over a two-year period, Maisha reduced reported past-year physical and/or sexual IPV among participating women by roughly 25 percent. The effect was largely driven by impacts on physical IPV. The programme also reduced attitudes tolerating violence and beliefs that partner violence is a private matter.
Maisha was implemented by the STRIVE consortium and coordinated by the Mwanza Intervention Trials Unit, the Tanzania National Institute for Medical Research, and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. The programme was funded by the UK Department for International Development. If you want to adapt the programme, we strongly recommend that you contact one of the programme’s sponsoring agencies first.
- Adding a social empowerment intervention to an existing microfinance programme could lead to greater decreases in physical IPV beyond those from microfinance alone.
- A lack of content explicitly on sexuality and on norms of male sexual entitlement in marriage may have limited the programme’s impact on sexual IPV.
- Impacts were stronger among women who participated in seven or more Maisha sessions, emphasising the importance of consistent, high exposure.
- Original plans to deliver a similar curriculum to men were abandoned when it proved impossible to recruit and retain men during the pilot.
- Dynamics of loan groups—including delays, disagreements, and anxieties around repayment—must be managed or they can undermine participation in the gender sessions.
“I LEARNED HOW TO LIVE WITH MY PARTNER IN A GOOD RELATIONSHIP AND THAT IS WHY I TELL YOU THAT THOSE TRAININGS HELPED ME A LOT…I LEARNED THE LANGUAGE TO USE WITH MY HUSBAND, HOW TO LIVE WITH HIM IN THE MARRIAGE, HOW WE SHOULD ADVISE EACH OTHER ON HOW BETTER WE COULD LIVE WITH OUR FAMILY.”
FEMALE PARTICIPANT, AGED 27, KIRUMBA