MPP Van Siclen working with Inherit Your Rights in Tanzania

This summer, I have been working with Inherit Your Rights, a women’s rights NGO in Arusha, Tanzania. Inherit Your Rights is a legal aid organization that originally focused on providing counseling and support for widows, who are often denied any share of their husband’s property after his death. In the last couple of years, IYR has expanded their work to include a broader spectrum of women’s rights and human rights issues. While our clients are still primarily widows involved in inheritance disputes, we also provide legal advocacy for women dealing with divorce, custody, and domestic violence cases. In addition, IYR teaches a human rights training course for women’s collective groups in Arusha and the surrounding area.

I have been researching Tanzanian law and customs around women’s rights, helping to develop training materials on topics including inheritance, property rights, marriage and divorce, and domestic violence. I am also developing a children’s rights training curriculum for IYR, which will be used in schools and children’s groups.

A couple of weeks ago, IYR celebrated the graduation of the first group to complete the 16-week women’s rights training course. The skills and knowledge learned in IYR’s courses can help the participants to gain employment in human rights or legal organizations and to become advocates within their communities. We have started training with three more women’s groups this month, and the new children’s rights curriculum will start being taught in schools this fall (unfortunately, after I leave!). It has been inspiring to work with such engaged and passionate staff and to hear the stories of our clients, who are sometimes facing incredible odds in navigating Tanzania’s incredibly complex legal system. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to meet these women and to be involved in IYR’s work, if only for a few short months.

(Photo: The first cohort of graduates from IYR's training program.)
Renee Van Siclen
Master of Public Policy Candidate '16
Humphrey School of Public Affairs
University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
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