Conducted by Tanzania Media Women Association (Tamwa-Zanzibar) the campaign dubbed: ‘Male Change Agent Team (MCAT)’ is aimed at changing mindset of the community towards women full participation in political decision making bodies in the country.
The one-year campaign involved 20 members who are formed by personalities from different groups—religious, council, and community leaders, as well as members from political parties, civil society organisations and some males who champion for women and children involvement issues.
Empowered with special tools on how to reach the society and analyze issues on gender perspective, members of the team are now busy conducting dialogue meetings in all 11 districts in Unguja and Pemba islands.
Three weeks ago, Tamwa-Zanzibar officials in collaboration with leaders from Majenzi and Shumba shehias (villages) in Micheweni District, Pemba North Region organized a public dialogue meeting to encourage women to vie for different political posts, rather than relying on special seats, which are being claimed to humiliate women.
The meeting involved women and youth, who were given a chance to present their views on how they can take part in the forthcoming elections.
ACT- Wazalendo regional secretary for Pemba North, Salehe Nassoro Jema said: “It is high time for women to come out and take part in political leaderships, because women have that ability.”
He expressed his discontentment on the structure of the Micheweni Town Council, which has no single women, who has been elected from constituencies.
“Most of women in the council are through Special Seats arrangement, which is being outdated and this meeting should be used as an important platform to encourage women to take part in the forthcoming elections,” he said.
“It is time for women to seriously contest for councillorships, representatives and national assembly,” Jema said, calling women to be courageous and emulate the spirits of those women who have managed to get higher political posts in the country and other countries.
Among them include, Julie Catherine Manning, a Tanzanian lawyer, judge and politician. She was the first Tanzanian woman to study law; she was a High Court judge before serving as Minister of Justice from 1975 to 1983.
Jema also named Tabitha Siwale, who was appointed by the late Julius Nyerere as minister of Housing and Lands.
Others are Asha-Rose Mtengeti Migiro, a politician and diplomat who served as the Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations from 2007 to 2012. She was also appointed as the United Nations Secretary-General's Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa on 13 July 2012.
He also named Amina Salim Ali, the former Zanzibar’s Finance Minister and now Minister for Industry, and Trade as well as Vice President, Samia Suluhu Hassan.
“All these performed a very good job, and I believe you also can do better. You cannot be a minister if you aren’t an MP or Representative of Zanzibar House of Representatives,” he said.
Jema urged women in the Indian Ocean archipelago to join political parties, which is an important platform for them to contest different posts, as Tanzanian law doesn’t allow independent candidate.
Isaack Maganza, pastor of RGC church in Chakechake town of Pemba urged men to fight patriarchy system, which stigmatize women, which in turn demoralize them from participating in political activities.
“The room is open for women to take part in political arena. So, men should allow women to participate in politics,” Maganza said.
Sheikh Abdallah Nassoro Abdallah, from Association of Imams in Zanzibar (JUMAZA) said that in most parts of the world men hold key political leaderships, but there are women who have managed to take those posts and their performances are not questionable, citing Bibi Titi Mohamed, who was a major leader in the Tanganyika nationalist movement.
She led the women’s wing of the Tanganyika African National Union (TANU), and later became the minister for women and social affairs. Mohamed was a Muslim woman born in Dar es Salaam in 1926 to a businessman.
Abdallah urged women to get into politics so that they can bring changes and development in the society as well as addressing gender-based violence in the country.
He however challenged women to continue playing their indomitable role at family level and they shouldn’t use the political muscles to humiliate their husbands.
Riziki Ali Hamad is one of the young women in Micheweni who commended the organizers of the meeting saying: “It is a timely meeting as women in the past were deliberately denied their rights to take part in elections. I believe this movement encourages women to enjoy the right of electing and being elected.”
“I’m getting ready to take part in the 2020 general election,” Riziki said confidently, when speaking at the meeting held at Micheweni Secondary school.
Mtumwa Hamis Jongo, gender assistant coordinator in Mjenzi village urged men to make women free from GBV, a challenge she said thwarts women’s dreams to go into political posts.
“In 2017, I wanted to be a chairperson of parents’ wing of the ruling CCM, but votes weren’t enough. But, I am not tired. I will also vie in future,” said Kuluthum Ali Kombo.
Tamwa-Zanzibar project manager, Hawra Shamte said the campaign is aimed at increasing the number of women leaders and candidates in the coming elections.
Shamte noted that having a good number of women leaders will facilitate solutions to the many challenges facing women in the country.
According to UN Women Tanzania, 1,039 women form Tanzania mainland and Zanzibar vie for the Parliament and the Zanzibar House of Representatives in the October 25th 2015 elections were more than 12,000 candidates.
Director of Tamwa- Zanzibar, Dr Mzuri Issa also encouraged political parties and clerics should encourage women to vote for women candidates.
According to her the number of women who participated in elections in 2015 was low despite the fact that most of the voters were women.
Dr Mzuri urged women to recognise their value and the role of women leaders. She said once women support their counterparts there will be a good number of women leaders after the 2020 general elections.
“We aim at improving the number of women candidates in the coming elections”, said Dr Mzuri.