What we did: We supported a Leadership Academy for 30 Tanzanian women as part of our coordination of the regional Women in Political Participation programme. 

What we achieved: The academy, organized by the African Women’s Development and Communication Network (FEMNET), empowered participants to engage politically and participate in elections.

Who we did it with: Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), FEMNET

Impact area: Political Participation and Representation

Donor: Sida

Boundary partners: Political parties


Rose Njilo, a 40-year-old human rights activist of Maasai origin, did not win when she ran in last year’s by-election in Tanzania’s Ngorongoro district. That might have been too much for a female newcomer lacking academic qualifications in a region of ingrained patriarchy, gender stereotyping and retrogressive culture.

However, the fact that she tried was testament to an International IDEA-led programme to get more women into politics.

Njilo was among the 30 successful applicants selected from across Tanzania to participate in a Leadership Academy run by African women’s development group FEMNET. It was part of International IDEA’s regional Women in Political Participation programme, funded by Sida.

‘The academy renewed my hope to champion for my community’s human rights through legislation,’ Njilo said, citing the knowledge she received at the four-day intensive training programme.

The academy brought together grassroots women leaders and political aspirants to be trained and equipped to participate effectively in elections in Tanzania. For Njilo, it marked a wake-up call for her to scale up her existing human rights championship and to position herself for policy reforms in addressing the myriad of gender inequality issues affecting her community.

These include poverty, early child marriages, unequal land ownership and under-representation in decision-making spaces. The Ngorongoro Maasai are also in an ongoing struggle with the Tanzanian Government over their presence in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area.

After the workshop, Njilo registered as a candidate in the Ngorongoro by-election held on 25 October 2021. 

The result of the election did not kill her spirit as the experience gave her more motivation to push for human rights in decision-making processes. A month later, she shared her political journey at the East African Community (EAC) secretariat and East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) in Arusha.

Speaking at the closing ceremony, Ugandan First Deputy Prime Minister Rebeca Kadaga applauded Njilo for her bravery and pledged to assist her enrol in and pay for college this year.


Relevant link

More about International IDEA’s regional Women in Political Participation (WPP) programme and FEMNET on our WPP website.