Kivulini Women's Rights Organization is a non-governmental women’s group based in Mwanza, Tanzania. It was founded in 1999 by six Tanzanian women in response to the rampant violence against women and girls they were witnessing. Kivulini is active in the Lake Victoria Region of Tanzania, where rates of violence are high and few organizations address this problem.
In Swahili, kivulini means "in the shade," implying a place of safety and support. As it’s name suggests, Kivulini's vision is not only the absence of violence, but also a community that respects and values the rights of women and girls. The organization strives to be transparent and accountable in their mission to prevent violence through tolerance of diversity and equality of social justice for both men and women.
Kivulini works through advocacy, empowerment, support, and mobilization towards an active social movement for change. Believing that violence is entrenched in sociocultural norms and practices, Kivulini views domestic violence as a community-based problem and therefore seeks to address violence on a community level. Kivulini collaborates with all members of the community and a wide network of partners to create opportunities for everyone to work together to mobilize change and prevent gender-based violence. For example, community leaders throughout various villages are elected by their peers and established as the primary contact persons in incidents of domestic violence.
Their community-based approach employs multifaceted strategies that begin at the local, regional, and national levels to stimulate policy change. Kivulini strives to create space for community voices to be heard and civil society to flourish, encouraging dialogue from the general public.
While Kivulini is mainly focused on violence prevention and awareness, the organization has also helped empower women's groups through education and skills training. Through this support, Kivulini has helped hundreds of Tanzanian women recognize the link between economic empowerment and the reduction of gendered violence.
Western Heads East is a not-for-profit, charitable organization with a vision to support the establishment of probiotic yogurt micro-enterprises through the empowerment of women throughout East Africa. The probiotic yogurt is based on the research of Dr. Gregor Reid, a scientist and professor at Western University in London, Ontario, Canada. His work has demonstrated that probiotics can improve health, particularly in those with HIV/AIDS through combating bacterial infections, preventing gastrointestinal issues, and increasing immune system efficiency.
The program is comprised of a team of Canadians and East African partners who collaborate on multiple components of the project. This includes efforts to increase yogurt production and economic viability, the completion of funding subsidies to provide yogurt to low-income individuals living with HIV/AIDS, and to collaborate with East African communities surrounding teaching, service and research. Students from Western University also participate in the program through the completion of internships in Mwanza, Kenya, and Rwanda. The students engage with local communities and grassroots organizations to establish new kitchens, maintain current kitchens and educate on the many health benefits of probiotic yogurt.
The program has grown in the past year from three community kitchens in Mwanza, Tanzania to ten. The women’s groups have established an umbrella organization called the African Probiotic Network Organization (APYNO) to support sustainable development and training for member groups. The community kitchens are owned and operated by local women and youth groups, and have also served as community hubs for counselling, disease awareness, entrepreneurship training and social support. Through the Western Heads East yogurt program, many women have been economically empowered to generate income for their families, contribute to the health of their communities and stimulate economic development.