Lack of political empowerment amongst women in Tanzania

By Hadija Masoud

Despite the Government’s attempts to rectify the convention on the elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the granting of Cabinet Decision no 23 of 1996 to increase women in all decision making levels such as Board of Directors, Heads of Institutions, and Commissioners and in national delegations, there is still a widespread gap between women and men in political spheres and decision making roles.

Traditionally, the position of women in Tanzanian is less than that of men. Women are not expected to influence the decision-making processes from the domestic level to the national level. In terms of family attitudes, men are considered to be the head of the household. These attitudes are rigidly based on patriarchal structures, which limit women’s voices from influencing the allocation of domestic resources.

Statistics by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) found that the global average of women in parliament by the end of 2012 stood at 20.3 percent up from 19.5 percent in 2011.

“The quotas by themselves are insufficient; they need to motivate, accompanied by sanctions for non-compliance, they should be placed in winnable positions, and encouraged in political commitment to comprise women’s parliamentary participation,” reads the IPU report.

The Government of Tanzania recognizes that the advancement and achievement of gender equality is a matter of human rights and a condition for social justice. This is according to the various laws that were addressed by the constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania of 1977, such as; everyone has the right to work, to educational and other pursuits (Act. 6). As well as the equality of human beings no.15 of 1984 Act.

Ms. Consolata George, a graduate Mlimani University of Dar es Salaam said that “education is the key to liberation and an important tool to lighten socio-economic problems. Women face numerous constraints to access education and training at all levels. Truancy, pregnancy, economic hardships and early marriages constrain girls from completing their schooling.  Existing social attitudes favour and promote boys’ education and pay less interest in the education of girls.”

A business woman, Ms. Clara John said that one of the major constraints facing women in gaining employment is low education, and inadequate economically productive skills.

“The government should increase women’s enrolment into vocational, tertiary and higher education, as well as restructuring education and training at all levels so that it relates to employment creation and both women and men to have equal positions,” she said.

“Despite the government’s efforts women, especially in rural areas, still remain underrepresented in political, economic and social decision-making. This is due to the poor implementation of legislation and traditional practices and laws which make women vulnerable to discrimination in the ownership of productive assets, especially at the village level, where they are prevented from owning land. Divorce, cultural practices and religion also deny their rights to own the assets,” said Mr. Abbas Mwinshehe, the Ten cells Leader of Temeke in Dar es Salaam.

Mr. Juma Omary a worker from TANROADS HQ said that due to the Tanzanian context, gender awareness is still an issue when it comes to decision making, with women facing various challenges as a result of their sex.

Generally, the government’s main goal is to achieve equal access for boys and girls to primary schools, secondary schools and higher learning institutions. The move is also focused on achieving equal opportunities for women and men in political, economical and social matters. To that effect, the Government has formulated policies and passed legislation which provides equal opportunities to women.

Hadija is currently upgrading her skills in human rights reporting in Dar es Salaam to expand her knowledge of journalism. Her goal is to become an international advocate on issues of women’s rights.



  1. Jacqueline Focus · · Reply

    It sounds sweet to get voice that fight to empower woman. KEEP IT UP MADAAM.

  2. shabani mlacha · · Reply

    congratulation Hadija just keep it!

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