Gender equality a prerequisite for sustainable development

29May 2019
Kenneth Simbaya
The Guardian
Gender equality a prerequisite for sustainable development

GENDER inequality is a major obstacle to socio-economic and political development of people.


Many studies have shown that gender inequality is one of the underlying causes of low productivity as it does, among other things, hamper the participation of at least half of the country’s population.

The reality of women and girls in Tanzania is that they remain vulnerable, marginalized group that is yet to enjoy equality in status and access to services and resources with male counterparts. Women are found at the bottom rung of poverty, of illiteracy, of landlessness, and are concentrated in rural areas where services and facilities are scarce.

TGNP’s five-year project (2019-2023) Women’s Voice and Leadership-Tanzania, Shule Direct’s Ndoto Hub and Women Fund Tanzania’s PAMOJA Women’s Voice and Leadership all launched at the Pre Event, are projects which are expected to play a key role in challenging the status quo so as to achieve gender equality as earlier demanded by Rusimbi. Thanks to Global Affair Canada’s support for this partnership for girls and women, this investment will surely power progress for all. When women win everyone wins.

According to Mary Rusimbi, Executive Director and Co-Founder of Women Fund Tanzania (WFT), to achieve gender equality we need to challenge the status quo and traditions that discriminate against women and girls.

She said, even though there is no quick and easy solution to eliminating barriers to gender equality, however there is a strategy that has proven to be very effective and that is gender mainstreaming.

Rusimbi said that gender mainstreaming is about integrating gender equality perspectives into all areas of policies and strategies.

“Gender mainstreaming will, ensure that women and girls, including those most marginalized, are able to participate fully in public life, are free from violence, and have equal access to education, economic opportunity, and health care, something which will release the brake to economic prosperity, as well as political stability and security,”  Rusimbi said, adding:

 “Equal distribution of power and influence, will enable men and women to have the same rights and opportunities to participate and benefit from Tanzania’s industrialization vision.”

The good news is that Tanzania has realized that, investing in gender equality and specifically in women and girls is one of the smartest investment, hence the government has come up with The National Strategy for Gender Development (NSGD).

The NSGD is a step forward among other things towards laying foundation in promoting gender equality and equity in the country.  It is one of the efforts in implementing the Platform for Action and the Fourth World Conference on Women (Beijing Conference).

Elimination of tax on sanitary towels, and abolition of school fees from primary to secondary school, is a powerful testimony that the government is committed to addressing barriers to girls empowerment, because only girls menstruate.

Some of the girls during menstruation period don’t go to school due to various reason including lack of proper hygienic environment like availability of water, rooms for changing their towers and disposing them, leave alone not being able to buy the towels due to high price. They miss between 4-5 days per month.

According to a Netherlands Development Organization SNV and HakiElimu (using Basic Education Statistics in Tanzania-BEST 2015 data), about 700,000-750,000 standard six and seven girls miss between 40-50 learning sessions out of the 290 schooling days per year, while their counterparts boys continue with lessons.  

Abolition of taxes on sanitary towers means that the price will go down, and girls will be able to attend classes on equal footing as their counterparts boys. On school fees this speaks volumes, most families particularly the poor in rural areas as well as the urban poor, before abolition of schools had tough choices between sending a boy child or a girl child to school. As usual girls were in most cases the victims.  

 “We cannot attain our ambition of being an industrial mid-income country nor can Tanzania realize its goal of transforming human lives as stated in its National Development Vision 2025 when women who are more than half of the total population are left behind. It is in view of that, the Five Year Development Plan II has prioritized women economic empowerment for the purpose of realizing inclusive growth and sustainable development,” said Julius Mbilinyi, Director of the Gender Division at The Ministry of Health Community Development Gender, Elderly and Children (MoHCDGEC) when officiating the opening session of the Pre Event.

It was inspiring to hear from Mbilinyi that, the government in collaboration with private sector, civil society organizations and development partners have developed the second Financial Inclusion Framework which takes into account gender issues including formation of the National Financial Inclusion Women Affairs Committee, a committee which according to Mbilinyi will facilitate identification of the gender gaps and design interventions and their implementation for bridging the gender gaps in realm of access to financial services. Women are more affected by this gap (access to financial resources) than men.

The government according to Mbilinyi, has amended the Local Government Financial Act in 2018, with the intent of strengthen women, youth and people with disability access to soft loans, the government has now made the contribution of 10 percent of the LGA’s own source revenue legal and has waved interest on loans provided under this scheme. Before making it legal, it was at the discretion of LGAs to earmark the funds or not but now it is legally binding LGAs to earmark the funds.

According to Lilian Liundi TGNP Executive Director, TGNP’s Women’s Voice and Leadership-Tanzania, project will support women’s growth socially, politically so as to continue bringing positive changes in the country.

“The project plans to nurture greater women’s leadership capacities and participation through enhanced leadership capacity, technical skills, and knowledge regarding documentation, political education, analysis and strategizing among women’s rights activists and their organizations. It also seeks to increase the quality of women leaders through capacity strengthening, mentorship and support, and building capacity of individuals and organizations to work on Gender Based Violence,” Liundi said.

Ndoto Hub project will targets young women between the ages of 19 – 30 years’ old who seek to improve their economic and social welfare. Most of these women, according to Tulinagwe Mwampanga Shule Direct Manager, make over 65% of the informal sector in Tanzania. Their activities since they are unregistered and most are home based, are often hard to organize, support and grow, unless driven with a bottom - up approach through networks and highly contextual support programs.

At Ndoto Hub, Tulinagwe further said, they run 10 weeks themed cohorts covering a range of themes including Agribusiness, Climate Change and Recycling, Renewable Energy, Food Processing, Manufacturing, Lifestyle, ICT and Media.

The five-year project PAMOJA Women’s Voice and Leadership by WFT, according to Carlo Mango, WFT Head of Programs, aims at support women’s rights organizations (WROs) in Tanzania by supporting them to improve their collaboration and collective social action, enhance their performance through enhanced programming and to strengthen their viability to advance gender equality and promote women’s and girls’ rights.

“This is borne by the fact that strong WROs are a prerequisite for a strong and vibrant women’s rights movement capable of mobilizing the voice, visibility, and collective organizing power of women so as to change the norms, institutions, policies and practices that perpetuate inequality, both in the public and private arenas,” said Carlo Mango, the Head of Programs at WFT.

Last week, The High Commission of Canada in Tanzania, in collaboration with TGNP, WFT, Ndoto Hub, organized a pre-event in the countdown to Women Deliver Conference 2019, that kicks of on 3rd of June through 6th of June in Vancouver Canada, invited stakeholders to discuss How to Ensure Women Can Fully Contribute to and Benefit from Tanzania’s Industrialization.