Tansania: Fatma Hamisi Misango

Fatma's driving force is to make a difference in women's lives.

— Fatma Hamisi Misango

Fatma Hamisi Misango was born in 1961 in the poor and neglected Songea District in south western Tanzania. She is a district counsellor and coordinator of a legal aid program in the district. She is engaged in governance issues, legal aid to women and children, particularly those orphaned by HIV/Aids, income generation and political participation. As a result of her work, women’s participation in the civil society in Songea has increased, and they have started their own initiatives to help widows of HIV/Aids.

Fatma Misango is a coordinator of Songea Legal Aid Program. Educated to secondary school level, she has built formal and informal networks. She belongs to the Sahiba Sisters Foundation, a network of Muslim women engaged in development. Other affiliations are the Tanzania Gender Network, the Intermediary Gender Network and Songea Counsellors and Women in Enterprise. “She values mass support and has made extensive networks with religious and community leaders and local government officials,” says a colleague who knows her well. Songea District is one of the least developed areas in Tanzania, but its location on the borders to Malawi and Zambia offers countless opportunities for women and youth in cross-border trading, agriculture and development linkages. As a result of Fatma Misango’s work, the participation of women in the civil society has increased. The women have begun initiatives to help widows of HIV/Aids and a legal aid scheme. "Fatma knows how to involve others in development activities,” says the colleague. “She has been instrumental in networking seven community groups and promotes the inclusion of more women in training.” Fatma Misango addresses culture and religion issues, often contradicting religious leaders who feel that she wants to question religious authorities. Perhaps her greatest challenge is motivating women in believing they can improve their lives. They face many problems as a result of oppressive laws and customs, as well as discrimination and hunger. She wants to make a difference in women’s lives; to better their lives. This is her driving force.

Songea District Council Songea Legal Aid Program (Soplu)