We are pleased to share with you another of our alumnae leadership Journey of Ms. Scholastica Haule, the Women’s Rights Manager of Action Aid, Tanzania. I hope you will be inspired by her determination to transform the lives of women in her country, and continue the fight for gender equality and women’s empowerment no matter the challenges we constantly interface. I trust you will enjoy reading her story and also learn from it.
How is your personality aligned to the kind of work you do?
Mhh, I would describe myself as gifted, dedicated and passionate African woman. I consider myself as a women rights activist. I love working with women and men, discussing challenges and jointly looking for solutions. When I joined ActionAid Tanzania five years ago, my position was Land Rights Advisor and my main task was to ensure that the organizational program on land rights is well aligned with promotion of women land rights at local and national level. With my legal background I did the job very well by ensuring that, the designed programs do integrate women from awareness sessions to participatory land governance processes. In some areas there are successful stories of empowered women jointly registering land titles with their spouses, while in Kiteto district, a group of Masai women confronted an investor who acquired land without their consent by filing a case in court. With this background and constant engagement with women I realized that women challenges are interconnected and that means, challenges related to lack of control of land, lack of decision making at household level, violence against women and abuse, lack of economic opportunities are interconnected and ultimately subject women to extreme poverty. This made me realize that the transformation of women’s lives cannot be confined to issues of land rights rather must be addressed holistically.
What inspires you to do the work that you do and how have you dealt with the challenges you encounter in this field of your work?
I always feel privileged being educated and empowered compared to millions of fellow Africans, specifically Tanzania women who have not gotten the chance due to a number of challenges, patriarchy among them. Honestly, I feel indebted to fellow women who might find my contribution an added value and can bring about change in their lives. My current role as a Women Rights Manager has been supporting the Organization in designing programs that can address the impact of gender based violence, promote access to legal remedies, women political leadership as well as economic empowerment as a way of reducing vulnerability and enhancing decision making for women. While there have been many advances with the national policies and laws in promoting women rights as well as empowerment programs targeting women, there are still some challenges on women accessing legal remedies and fully enjoying their rights on equal footing with men within the society. As an individual, addressing women rights issues at some point becomes sensitive especially when you are challenging issues related to violence against women at community level. You actually deal with mind-sets and attitude or perception. At some point, community members who are rooted in the patriarchal system and who perceive women as second class citizens see you as an intruder who is coming to insight their well-behaved women. However, this does not discourage me in continuing to support women. The most important thing for me has been to work and stand in solidarity with those who support the movement.
Akina Mama wa Afrika is celebrating 30 years since her formation in 1985… do you in anyway identify with this milestone? And if so how?
Reflecting on the AMWA mission, and taking into consideration that I am a product of AMWA through AWLI, I feel that where there is no AWLI there is no AMWA. So yes, I am part and parcel of this celebration. AMWA has successfully tried to keep track of the ALUMNAE and try to get them connected and that is what makes it a unique organization. I am so proud to be part of this family.
What is your most memorable African Women Leadership Institute experience? And why?
I am an alumna of 2013, the training that took place in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. I remember the training brought together participants from Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. The room was full of knowledge and expertise from journalists, medical doctors, community development to women rights activists but we were all connected with one agenda, feminist leadership. It was my first training on feminist leadership theory and style. I was introduced to personal visionary development and for the first time I realized that has been just thinking of myself, just me. The self-discovery has enabled me to understand myself in terms of my strength and areas that I need to focus on for improvement. This time, I realized that leaders are not born but made. No matter how naturally good you are as a leader, you need some leadership skills to make you the best leader. This knowledge has always helped me to reflect and question my role as a professional, woman and mother as to whether I am able to challenge the social structures in the society. And as a result, I am working hard and determined to bring about the change I envision.
Would you recommend a Sister to undertake the AWLI training? If Yes why?
Definitely, I have twice recommended and I will continue to recommend. This is because, I would like to foster female leadership in Tanzania to challenge sexual and gender based violence, access and control of land for women, promote women political leadership as well as empowering economic livelihood for women within the society. This can all be achieved if we have more feminist leaders with sufficient knowledge and skill to challenge the social power structure that subject women to second class citizenship in their ownhomes, communities, countries and continent.
How best can African women collectively work together to advance the rights of women on the continent amidst the dwindling financing for gender equality?
The task of challenging the power structure that perpetrates gender inequality at local, national and across the African continent is not easy. This calls for collective voice of forming and strengthening women movements from local, national, regional and across Africa. I believe with limited resources, organizations need to amplify their voices in solidarity and it is not time for claiming individual success in terms of interventions. There is a need for African women to continue sharing experiences, case studies and best practices and striving for alternative sources of income instead of depending on traditional donors
I believe you are quite self-determined and a hard working person however is there any African woman who inspires you or has inspired you? And how?
There are number of them but I will choose one; Getrude Mongella is my icon. She is a Tanzania politician and was the first president of the Pan African Parliament. She holds a number of titles within the country and globally. You cannot talk about women rights either within the country or globally without mentioning her name. What has inspired me is not how many titles she won but the fact that her and other few women in Tanzania, managed to transform women status and image within the country at the most difficult phase when mentioning of women rights was a taboo. Recently, I was honored to invite her on the event I organized, to come and share her leadership journey with women leadership aspirants of the national 2015 election, an event that brought more than 100 women in Dodoma from across the country. I was so surprised to see how down to earth she is and still maintained her African motherly love.
What would be your advice to a young feminist leader in Africa and how can they move past the challenges they encounter each day?
I think it has to start with a vision that clearly demonstrates how they can realize and achieve the anticipated change they seek to bring in their communities.Young feminist leaders need to invest in knowledge and skills and integrate with positive African cultural ways of living but most importantly work in solidarity with each other.
Finally which one thing would you like the world to remember about Scholastica for when you’re long gone from this other world?
I want to push as far as can from what others have done to advance women rights and leave a mark for young feminist to step in and finally realize women empowerment
Learning more from Scholastica’s work