Women Action Towards Economic Development: Advancing Gender and Human Rights in Private Security Companies in East Africa

ICoCA CSO Member since June 2020


Uniting for a Safer and Inclusive Private Security Sector

Women Action Towards Economic Development (WATED) is a non-profit Civil Society Organisation (CSO) based in Tanzania mainland, with a focus on issues related to gender and human rights. WATED operates across the East Africa region to advocate for the implementation of Private Security Companies (PSCs) laws and of the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers (the Code). With a small team of 4 staff members, WATED actively engages with government agencies, ministries, and national, regional, and international coalitions to bring about tangible and sustainable solutions.

WATED works in close partnership with the Platform for Gender Private Security and Human Rights (PRISEP), a non-political and non-governmental institution established in July 2021 under its leadership. The platform aims to bring together private security associations, unions, companies, retired ex-militia, lawyers, CSOs, academics, and government officials to develop advanced PSCs that prioritise accountability, transparency, and the promotion of gender and human rights. PRISEP focuses on evidence-based research, training, partnerships, networking, and community engagement to achieve accessible, accountable, and transparent PSCs that adhere to the Code. WATED continues to provide technical advice and support to PRISEP and its 5 team members in various areas, including strategic planning, policy development, fundraising, compliance, and training for PSCs.

Strengthening Expertise and Collaboration for PSCs in Tanzania

WATED joined ICoCA in June 2020 to gain a deeper understanding of PSCs, recognising the existing knowledge gap at the national level. Maria Matui, WATED’s Executive Director, is therefore “grateful for ICoCA’s online learning platform, which is freely accessible to all ICoCA Members and Affiliates. By becoming a Member of ICoCA, WATED aims to enhance its expertise and collaborate with other stakeholders to address the challenges faced by PSCs in Tanzania.

As a member of national, regional, and international coalitions and networks working on human rights and gender, and with strong partnerships with government agencies and ministries working on these issues, “WATED is uniquely positioned to bring together diverse stakeholders and advocate for its agenda at the national level” explains Ms. Matui. By prioritising partnerships and engagements, WATED seeks to find sustainable solutions to the challenges faced by humanity.

Sustaining A Close Collaboration with ICoCA

WATED has actively participated in various interventions and projects in collaboration with ICoCA. Research conducted jointly by the two organisations in 2021 revealed significant issues in Tanzania’s private security sector, including the absence of specific regulations for PSCs, limited professional training opportunities, a lack of gender perspectives, inadequate research and documentation, and limited networking among local and international PSCs. As a concrete result of this study, PRISEP was established under WATED’s supervision with the goal to bring together various stakeholders to develop accountable, transparent, and gender-responsive PSCs through research, training, partnerships, networking, and community engagement.

WATED also partnered in 2023 with Usalama Reforms Forum, another ICoCA CSO Member, for the launch of ICoCA’s report on working conditions in the private security sector in East Africa. Through these initiatives, the organisation has identified common challenges faced by PSCs across East African countries, such as gender inequality, human rights violations, and development issues. According to Ms. Matui, “the interactions between ICoCA, government representatives, CSOs, and PSCs have paved the way for future collaborations and created opportunities to advocate for PSC laws and the implementation of a gender and human rights lens within the industry”.

Looking ahead, WATED sees the potential for increased collaboration and partnerships with ICoCA, fostering a united effort to create a safer and more inclusive environment within the private security sector. As part of this commitment, WATED is actively conducting research on Gender and Private Security, with the intention of sharing its findings and insights with ICoCA.

Both ICoCA and WATED are celebrating their 10-year milestone in 2023. For Ms. Matui, one of the main challenges for both organisations in the years ahead is the availability of financial resources to sustain and expand their impactful work.



Learn more about Women Action Towards Economic Development by visiting their website.