Speaking recently in Dar es Salaam during women’s leadership and political participation half day seminar, executive director of TGNP Mtandao . Lilian Liundi (pictured) has said that the community has negative mentality and perception on women participation in political leadership.
She said that following that, her organisation in collaboration with UN-Women have decided to carry out gender awareness through effective programmes of education and mass communication to transform the mind-set of girls, boys, men and women that places a disproportionate burden of household responsibility on girls and women, limits their educational and economic opportunities, and legitimates the politics of exclusion.
Liundi further said that social, cultural norms and beliefs have continued to create structural obstacles that limit women’s access to the political sphere.
She mentioned the regions they will be carrying out their programme, include: Mara, Kigoma, Tabora, Simiyu, and Shinyanga.
She said their programme would involve different key stakeholders like: traditional leaders, religious leaders, local leaders at the community leaders. “We thought these leaders are crucial because they have a big number of people under their leadership,” she noted.
“Our position is that we think if women become leaders will be in a better position to defend and fight for their social rights and needs.”
According to Liundi, the equal participation of women and men in political leadership is crucial to realising women’s democratic rights and contributing to the overall economic performance of the country.
For his part, one of the trainers in this leadership programme, a Lecturer in the Department of Gender and Development at Mwl. Nyerere Memorial Academy, Mr. Henry Kigodi, concurred with Liundi by saying “There is a crucial need for the women to participate in the leadership because development or leadership can’t be translated by women or men only, it should be a participatory leadership.”
Kigodi believes that when a woman takes political position will help in bringing gender equality because for a long time women have been left behind in development and leadership, especially in political positions.
According to Kigodi, “always a woman has been for almost 90 per cent a catalyst of development and main actor from family to national levels, but we don’t recognise that because the activities done by her are not recorded.”
He therefore suggested that it was high time to empower women so that they can be able to liberate themselves from traditional and persistent social cultural barriers that have been major contributing factors hindering their active pursuit obtain positions of leadership. “Most patriarchic societies, females are regarded as the inferior of the species,” he said.
Kigodi further noted that although women constitutes two third of the world’s working hours, produce half of the world’s food and above all, bear and rear children, women continue to suffer from all forms of discrimination and from the absence of adequate protection against violence.
According to World Bank report, sustainable and all around developments of a society cannot be brought about without the full and unreserved participation of both woman and man in the development process, and such a balanced development should also call for the elimination of all forms of discrimination, and the protection against all forms of violence against women.
Since 1985 Tanzania has been implementing CEDAW (Convention on Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women) which is an international agreement where countries have agreed to end all forms of discrimination against women.
The Convention provides the basis for realizing equality between womenand men through ensuring women's equal access to, and equal opportunities in, political and public life including the right to vote and to stand for election --as well as education, health and employment.
Another trainer an Assistant Lecturer from the Department of Political Science and Public Administration at the University of Dar es Salaam Mr Palme Kawishe, said that there was need to put in place programmes and mechanisms that address structural issues that hinder women from entering civil and political leadership.
“Build awareness of the benefits that women bring to leadership roles, advocate for the equal representation of women and men in political participation and leadership, and establish leadership and mentoring programmes that support aspiring young women leaders,” he urged.
He further urged that there was a need to promote mentorship and confidence building to women and girls in developing their courage to participate in social, economic and political spheres. Women champions in the respective communities can be used as agents for change and mentors to other women with less confidence and exposure. “Women have to change their attitudes that they are less than men when it comes to participating decision making levels especially in vying for leadership positions.”
He also suggested that there was a need to encourage behaviour change among men with regard to accepting women in leadership positions thus encouraging women towards realizing their leadership capability regardless their gender.