Discrimination against women threatens social development

By Dominic Fortunatus

Women are the backbone of rural economies in developing countries, especially in Africa, as they play a significant role in ensuring the well-being of their families. According to the Global Poverty Project, women work two-thirds of the labour hours and provide 70% of the food, and make only 10% of the income (for those with a recognized job or profession).

Unfortunately, in Tanzanian society they continue to face discrimination which discourages them from performing their duties. Humiliation and oppression, among others, are key challenges that women face.

According to Kivulini Women’s Right Organization (Nguvu Kazi), an organization which fights for women rights based in Mwanza, women face a great deal of challenges within their families and this is normally because of her husband. According to Mr. Mathias Chalya, the executive director of the organization, they receive numerous cases every day concerning problems with women and their partners.

“In Tanzania women face a lot of challenges, such as: sexual violence, rape, abandonment, oppression of the inheritance of property and abuse by their husbands. In which per day we can receive more than 10 cases concerning women with the same incidents,” he said.

Women wake early in the morning and go to sleep late at night, within the day they are busy with chores and activities which are not recognized as duties because they are not payable. Their husbands do not help them and there are times when they leave home without knowing how their family is going to survive the day.

Subira Massawe has witnessed this scenario in her family.

“I used to wake up early in the morning and perform a lot of duties, up to evening without the help of my husband. Everything was left on me and when he would wake up he just goes in the street without thinking for the children’s basic needs: how my children will eat, how they will go to school, it is up to me and when he comes back in the evening he expects to find food on the table,” she says.

Women are not ensured the right to education, as most families believe that investing in a girl’s education is a waste of money. Women are to stay home and help their parents in their different activities, while boys are given educational priority in order to provide security to the families when the parents become older.

Miss Neema shares her story, “I was married when I was far too young. My parents forced me to so that they could earn money to sustain the family. And now I am a mother of three children.”

Rural women are also more susceptible to HIV/AIDS than men. Illiteracy and low income forces women to engage in unsafe sexual intercourse. Due to the lack of awareness concerning HIV/AIDS, they don’t ask their partners to use protective measures and find themselves affected.

The HIV/AIDS awareness and charity organization (HACO) reports that 59% of those living with HIV/AIDS are females; and that there is gender element to the illness in Africa. Lack of awareness and partners’ unwillingness to use protection endangers women. Statistics on the number of youth aging 15-24 who have contracted the disease shows that 75% are women. Additionally, HIV positive women or those widowed by HIV/AIDS lose their homes due to stigmatization in the community.

In high school, Dominic was an active member of the anti-corruption club and holds a certificate of recognition by the PCCB (Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau), an institution that fights to prevent and combat corruption in Tanzania. His goal for the future is to become a journalist who is able to serve the voiceless and create societal change.

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