US Embassy Chargé d'Affaires Inmi Patterson told reporters in Dar es Salaam during the launch of the UN Women–USAID partnership to support ‘Wanawake Wanaweza,’ a programme on women's leadership and political participation, that the grant will go into training on general political and electoral processes, timelines and how to navigate party and nomination schedules.
Tanzania will hold civic polls in September while the general elections are slated for October next year.
Patterson noted that US government resources will also contribute to mentoring and training on campaign management, messages crafting, policy development and fundraising.
“We have made considerable progress here in Tanzania; including significant increase in the number of women contesting for parliamentary positions as well as an increase in women who were elected as MPs in the last general election,” she said.
The envoy noted that currently, in the National Assembly there are 145 women, around 37 percent of the total.
“This is a laudable increase (47 per cent) since 2005 in the proportion of women who make up the National Assembly,” she stated.
Dr Patterson reiterated that bringing about changes requires innovative thinking to help girls and women overcome structural barriers to equality.
“The US government, through USAID support, looks forward to working together with UN Women in support of Tanzania-led efforts to promote and advance the leadership and engagement of women,” she told the gathering.
The big challenge women in Tanzania face is lack of power, both as agency and voice “to make important decisions about their own lives and to act on them free of retribution or fear,” she stated.
For her part, the UN Women Tanzania Country Representative, Hodan Addou said that having more women in leadership positions in both public and political spheres has a multiplier effect on benefits for communities.
She said research has repeatedly proven that when women have greater decision-making power peace is more sustainable and inclusive, while there was an impact on the efficiency of oversight functions, and a reduction in corruption.
Furthermore, women leaders were more willing to work across party-lines for the greater good and find solutions to long-standing problems.
More importantly, when girls growing up can see women in leadership roles, it raises their education attainment and carrier aspirations.
“The US government played a critical role in UN Women’s creation in 2010 and remains a vital policy and programmatic partner. We share a common and fundamental commitment to gender equality, women’s economic empowerment, women’s political participation, and the prevention of violence against women and girls,” the representative declared.
Addou said in Tanzania, UN Women is happy to report that representation of women in Parliament is 36.8 percent, which is well above the global average of 23.4 percent. “This is largely due to temporary special measures and reserved seats for women through proportional representation,” she remarked.
Currently, 113 of the 145 women MPs were nominated through temporary special measures, 25 were elected by constituencies, five appointed by the president and two elected by the House of the Representatives.
“Although those figures are encouraging, we note that several factors still hinder women from taking up leadership and political positions such as patriarchal ideology, poverty among women and male dominate political institutions,” she said.
In Tanzania, the US government has supported the UN Women project “No Tolerance for Sextortion,” while USAID is a leading donor along with Finland and Ireland in ‘Wanawake Wanaweza’ Phase 1 programme.
The Deputy Speaker of the Zanzibar House of Representatives, Mgeni Juma thanked the US government for the support in phase 1 of the programme that contributed a lot in her electoral race.
Tarime Urban MP (CHADEMA), Esther Matiko said training for women MPs enabled them to build strong arguments in budget sessions, expressed the hope that the number of women elected MPs doubles in the next year general elections.
The Head of Programmes at the Tanzania Gender Networking Programme (TGNP), Grace Kisetu highlighted the need for investing in women, saying it has a multiplier effects on the whole of society.