Open Democracy | Can religion be a positive force for social change? Lessons from the Aga Khan Foundation Tanzania

In the Lindi region of southern Tanzania, for example — where I worked as a research analyst for the Aga Khan Foundation last year — a group of Muslim women have gathered every week for the past six years to perform the simple act of saving together, taking loans from each other with interest and sharing in the profits.

 

Community-based Savings Groups (CBSGs) in Kirangerange, Tanzania. AKDN / Lucas Cuervo Moura
In collaboration with the government of Tanzania, under its MKUKUTA poverty alleviation programme, the Coastal Rural Support Programme in Tanzania, or CRSP(T), takes a market development approach to support rural livelihoods and improve the quality of life through increased rural income.
Pictured is a Community-based Savings Groups (CBSGs) in Kirangerange, Tanzania.
AKDN / Lucas Cuervo Moura

 

The money they received helped them to buy food during the lean season before the harvest, set up small businesses, renovate their houses, and send their children to school.

 

They also have a social fund to which each member contributes so that they can get an interest-free grant to cover emergency medical and funeral expenses. 

 

– Manini Sheker, award winning journalist

 

Can religion be a positive force for social change?

MANINI SHEKER 5 July 2016

Faith is neither a poison pill nor a silver bullet, but understanding its significance is crucial.

In February 2014 the Guardian joined forces with Mama Cash and the Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID) to focus on exploring the issues that are most important to women, girls and transgendered people across the world. While the resulting series brought into focus important work to advance women’s rights and gender equality, it failed to consider one fundamental aspect of women’s lives — religion. In fact the lack of coverage of religion as a positive force for social change is pervasive among most news outlets.

Image credit: Credit: http://blindgossip.com/. All rights reserved. via Open Democracy
Image credit: Credit: http://blindgossip.com/. All rights reserved. via Open Democracy

Perhaps this negligence is pardonable: after all, religion plays an important role in driving conflict, and various forms of religious oppression can and do have a corrosive impact on women’s rights and freedoms. But this neglect also hampers our understanding of the ways in which religion and spirituality can be a powerful force for personal and political transformation. From the mass mobilization of Christian women to end fourteen years of civil war in Liberia to the founding of Islam-inspired grassroots organizations to advance women’s empowerment and civic dialogue in Bosnia-Herzegovina, faith-inspired movements are playing a critical role in safeguarding women’s rights.

Read the complete article at the source via Open Democracy | Transformation | Manini Sheker | Can religion be a positive force for social change?

Discover, Explore and Learn morae about AKF projects in Tanzania via AKDN | Where we work | Tanzania | Rural development

About Manini Sheker

Manini Sheker is a PhD candidate in social anthropology at the University of Sussex. She holds degrees from the Universities of Oxford and Toronto and in 2011 was a finalist in the Guardian’s International Development Journalism competition. Manini was also awarded the Ngo Human Welfare Prize by Oxford University in 2013. Follow her on twitter @ManiniSheker.


Research, Insight & Perspective by A. Maherali

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s