-environmental protection and social justice requires the involvement of women in economic and social development, equal opportunities and the full and equal participation of women and men as agents and beneficiaries of people-centered sustainable development.
A facilitator at a seminar on the preparation for the review of the implementation of the 25 years of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action that took place in Dar es Salaam over the weekend, International Gender Specialist/Consultant Advisor on Gender and Development Issues Laeticia Mukurasi, commended the government for the strides achieved in implementing critical areas of concerns agreed by the 189 governments during the Beijing Platform for Action in 1995.
She said that the government concentrated on five broad areas of concern identified as its priority areas after the Beijing Conference in 1995.
The five areas are: Enhancement of women’s legal capacity, economic empowerment of women and poverty eradication; women’s political empowerment and decision making; women’s access to education and employment; and women and environment.
On the enhancement of women’s legal capacity, Tanzania Women Judges ‘Association (TAWJA) and the women law enforcers including Tanzania Police Female Network (TPFNET) have established associations sensitizing women on laws that support their rights.
Another purposes of establishing TPFNet was, inter alia, ensuring that gender issues, particularly gender based violence (GBV), were taken care of in the policing work.
Gender and Children’s Desks have been established at various police stations to receive complaints, investigation and prosecute cases on Violence against Women and girls (VAWG).
The Government has also established one stop centres as pilot centres for serving children who are victims of violence. The Government has also established Children Line which is used by the community to reveal information on violence against children.
For her part, a participant to that seminar who is also a researcher, Agnes Lukanga, said that after the Beijing Conference many policies and laws favouring women were formulated by the government.
She pointed some of those laws the Land Act No. 4 and the Village Land Act No. 5, 1999, Unit Titles Act, 2008, and the Mortgage Finance Special Provisions Act, 2008. “These laws give women the right to own property. Adding:
In 1999 when the Land Acts (No 4 and 5) were enacted it was a victory for women because for the first time women could own land and the matrimonial home was secure.”
More women are aware of their rights and speak out on acts of violence which in the past were considered to be tradition, for example wife battering and domestic violence. Women increasingly speak out if their husbands batter them. This contributed to awareness creation to women who thought wife battering was part of married life.
In addition there are programmes to sensitize women and men on the consequences of mistreating women which are in the form of TV drama.
In the area of economic empowerment of women and poverty eradication, the government of Tanzania recognises that economic empowerment of women, is important for sustainable development and poverty eradication.
Tanzania Development Vision 2025 aims at achieving a high quality of livelihood for its people, and attains good governance through the rule of law and develops strong and competitive economy.
The vision recognises that gender equality and the empowerment of women in all socio‐economic and political relations and culture are essential.
Mwanahamisi Singano, said that that in order to empower women economically the Government and Civil society Organisations (CSOs) have supported women with increased access to credit facilities. The government allocated funds for women programmes and projects, which aimed at empowering women economically, like the Women Development Fund (WDF).
The Tanzania Women’s Bank (TWB), opened by retired President Jakaya Kikwete, on 4th September 2009, aimed at providing soft loans to women investors and also sells shares to women.
The Government, Civil Societies have continued to create awareness to business women on registering to formalize their businesses to enable women to enter the international markets through simplified business registration and licensing procedures by the Business Registration and Licensing Agency.
A gender desk has been established at the Ministry of East African Community to deal with cross border trade. Women are provided with business skills, marketing and packaging skills before the exhibitions and exchange experiences during trade fairs and learn from each other.
Regarding women’s political empowerment and decision making-the government has made great progress.
In 1997 a constitutional reform resulted in an increase in the quota for women to 15 per cent of special seats in parliament and 25 percent of seats on Local Government Councils. This was in addition to women elected in constituency elections.
A constitutional amendment in 2000 resulted in women special seats representatives being increased to 25 per cent in Parliament and 33.3 percent on local councils.
Tanzania has made significant strides in terms of women’s representation on decision-making organs. Female members of Parliament have increased to 36 per cent in 2015, from 16.7 per cent (1995).
This makes Tanzania one of the 20 countries in the world that have reached or surpassed the 30 percent mark for women’s representation in Parliament; it ranks 5th in the continent and 20th in the world according to IPU data.
Neema Mwinyi noted that, there has also been a continued progressive policy implementation by the government towards promoting gender parity and women empowerment in the public sector. These efforts have enabled upward mobility of a significant number of women in public decision making in the country.
On women’s access to education and employment, again the government has made major strides. Remarkable achievements have been made in the area of access to education where enrolment expansion along with gender parity attainment in education in general has been realised, among others.
The 1995 Beijing Platform for Action flagged 12 key areas where urgent action was needed to ensure greater equality and opportunities for women and men, girls and boys. It also laid out concrete ways for countries to bring about change.