Gemma Akilimali, Tanzania Gender Networking Programme (TGNP)’s board chairperson made the call yesterday when speaking at the three-day northern zone gender festival held at the Kwasakwasa grounds in Same District, Kilimanjaro Region.
Themed Economic Justice: “Making Resources Work for Marginalised People for Sustainable Livelihood” the festival brought on board women rights organizations, community based organizations and other grassroots groups. It meant to deliberate on how they can utilize available economic opportunities for their development.
She said: “I’m more relieved to know that this Festival along with others aims to discuss the effects of climate change, something that is important for the future of our country as it is an undeniable fact that the change in the situation has a great impact on the issue of food security.”
Gemma said: “It’s obvious that this discussion comes at the right time because the world is facing many challenges of climate change where Tanzania is also a part of it.”
“It is an undeniable fact that a woman is the first victim in every challenge especially climate change because when there is a drought, she is the one who will struggle to find water and the big responsibility of preparing food.”
She stated that reckless tree felling has most affected most parts of the country and Same District has no distinction, it’s high time for researchers to design alternative energy for cooking to reduce large consumption of firewood.
“By doing that, we will be able to deal with the drought that threatens food security in our country. I call upon everyone to try to plant trees when they have the opportunity to do so.”
Opening the festival, Kilimanjaro Regional Commissioner, Nurdin Babu said President Samia Suluhu Hassan has increased the number of women in decision-making and leadership positions, giving the example of ministers increasing from 21.7 percent to 36 percent.
He said that the move increased the opportunity for students who stopped studying for various reasons, including pregnancy, to continue their studies and to provide opportunities to empower women and the marginalized groups.
"I have been informed that this year's festival carries the message of Economic Justice: “Making Resources Work for Marginalised People for Sustainable Livelihood”, which is an important topic at this time the country has entered into a middle economy that requires the participation of women and men," he said.
Babu said that together with women, more than 50 percent of the people have not yet been able to participate fully due to various reasons including gender violence, wrong traditions and customs, poor education, not owning productive resources and being burdened with work to serve the community and family.
Lilian Liundi, Tanzania Gender Networking Program (TGNP) executive director said that Tanzania has a lot of resources and for a long time TGNP and its stakeholders have been running national campaigns that the country is not poor but it needs to look at how resources are used equally for sustainable and inclusive development.
She mentioned that these resources are land, water, natural resources, minerals and people and that for a long time a large amount of the budget is directed to infrastructure, communication technology, minerals and industries
"These sectors are very important in stimulating economic growth. However, the agricultural sector employs more than 58 percent of Tanzanians, of which 80 percent are women and small farmers who have been representing this country. The growth of this sector has been small 5.2 percent and Agriculture has been contributing more than 28.2 percent of the national income," he said.
Lilian lauded the government on the agricultural budget for the year 2022/23 which doubled from 294bn/- to 751bn/- an increase of 155.34 percent compared to 2021/22.
"This budget has specified that women, youth and other groups will be a priority in the opportunities brought by the increase. This festival will give us the opportunity to discuss the existing and new opportunities that are emerging in the agricultural sector and how women and marginalized groups can use them for the prosperity of their lives," Lilian said.