Women, ever since time immemorial have had the burden of playing multiple roles in society, putting in longer working hours and shouldering more responsibilities than their male counterparts especially when it comes to home related tasks.
Society has come to accept this inequality as the norm, no eye brows are raised when a village couple both leave the house at dawn to attend to the fields and come back at dusk. The man proceeds to take his bath and relaxes, while the woman goes on to resume the duties she has left unattended in the morning, sweeping, washing dishes, fetching water and start preparing the day’s main meal.
No one questions when the woman will also take a rest, since they have been together in the fields with the husband who is already enjoying a cup of tea by the fire—gender inequality.
Not only is the rural woman the only one who is subjected to some form of gender inequality but also her urban counterpart.
Juggling an 8am to 5pm job is no joke, throw in the school run, shopping and having to make dinner in the evening is no easy feat, but women multi-task so effortlessly while the man reads the newspaper sipping on his coffee.
The truth that must be told is that women are overburdened with responsibilities that include taking care of the family while at the same time juggling formal work responsibilities.
They combine both paid and unpaid work, but unfortunately unpaid work remains an impediment to women’s economic empowerment.
Women make up 51 per cent of the Tanzania’s s population yet 18 per cent have no formal education. The country has made efforts in reducing the gender inequality gap but enacting legislation which promotes equality and recognizes women rights.
Although women account for 52 per cent of the working age population, employment rates in various sectors of the economy remain lower than their male counterparts.
UN Women Representative, Ms Hodan Addou said recently at a Women Business and Law Workshop that empowering women economically and closing gender gaps in the workplace are key to achieving the 2030 agenda for Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
She said there is need to increase women’s economic security by creating conducive conditions for women to move away from low risk, low return sectors and rather penetrate more secure employment opportunities which encourage asset building and income accumulation.
According to Addou, Women also need access to markets, affordable finance and have rights to land and other productive resources.
UN Women Representative commended Tanzania for taking efforts to eliminate inequality however more needs to be done in promoting shared responsibility for unpaid care work.
Child marriages remain a challenge in the country and according to the UN two out of five girls in the country are married before the age of 18, some as early as 11 years old.
According to her, Tanzania has taken efforts to eliminate inequality however promoting shared responsibility for unpaid care work and the Child marriage presents a significant challenge.
She said in Tanzania almost two out of five girls are married before the age of 18, with some girls getting married early as 11 years old.
“Marriage at a young age can have adverse impact on women’s reproductive health, access to education, relative bargaining position within the family and being to prone domestic violence,” she said.
Addou, said central to the pursuit of gender equality and women’s empowerment are enactment and enforcement of laws that protect and promote the rights of women and girls.
The Women Fund Tanzania, Representative Dr Dina Mmbaga said several steps have been taken to promote equality but inequality in the work place remains a story that is swept under the carpet.
She noted that there are discrepancies in the laws that protect the girl child that urgently calls on the need to harmonize the Child Act 2009, Education Amendment Act 2015 and the Marriage Act 1978 to identify the rights of a child.
She said the Marriage Act allows a girl to be married at the age of 14 years while the Child Act recognizes a child up to the age of 18 years. “Following the disharmony a girl can be discontinued from school at the age of 14 years especially in the rural areas where people are not well informed,” she said.
On the employment front, she said women are still victimized by their male counterparts by being forced to offer sexual favors in return for a promotion or employment offer.
Speaking on the sidelines of the meeting, the Director for Gender Development in the Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, Julius Mbilinyi said Tanzania recognizes and respects equality among both genders.
“Tanzania has signed a number of treaties for gender development and empowering women because we want everyone to have equal opportunities and participate fully in the development of our country,” he said.
According Mr Mbilinyi , the government has signed the Convention of the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDOU) while at the same time is implementing the fifth Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) on gender equality and empowerment of women.
He stressed that the country has taken commendable steps in the direction of equality, and history shows the government’s commitment started in the 1990’s when the government had a policy on gender and women development which was reviewed in 2000.
The policy on women and gender for 2000 requires all national plans, laws, institutions as well as ministry’s ensure they enforce gender and women development.
He noted that the constitution also has a provision requiring women in Parliament to be not less than 30 percent, currently Parliament is made up of 37 percent female legislators. “This was achieved because the constitutions requires the President to appoint 50 percent of its 10 special seats appointment to be women,” he said.
He further noted that the country’s development vision 20-25 requires the government to prioritize gender equality in the society which is also translated in the national development plan 2016/17 and 2021/22.
According to Mbilinyi, the government has continued to review laws on gender equality by putting in place a solid legal framework to protect women’s rights in and access to land use. “The government enacted Land and Village Land Act both of 1999 and its consequential amendments in 2004 that guaranteed women right to own, use and dispose land.
The government reviewed the Act in 2002 and came up with Act no.2 of 2002 which established Land Local Tribunals, and prescribed that out of seven members of the Tribunal at least three must be women.
He said Women rights to land were also guaranteed in Mortgage Financing Special Provision Act and Unit Titles Acts of 2008. “In Tanzania, land is the major form of property which is readily available as capital.
If we secured land serves as a sustainable tool for agricultural productivity, and guarantee for loans,” he said.
Meanwhile he said the government has put in place the Sexual offences Special Provisions Act, 1998, (Sospa) on the penal code chapter 16 that deals with gender violence offences, the act goes hand in hand with the Education Amendment Act of 2015 which issues punishment of up to 30 years for anybody who impregnates a school girl or has sexual relations with one.
In another positive development, the government has also enacted a Local Government Financial Act which requires women to get 10 percent credit from own funds. The funds are distributed as 4 percent women, 4 percent through youth fund and 2 percent through disability fund.
He said government efforts in ensuring equality has led to the enactment of the legal aid Act no.1 of 2017 which requires all the marginalized groups to be assisted with legal aid.
On his part, the Labor Commissioner, Gabriel Malata said laws are enacted and legal treaties signed to accommodate the country’s needs and in this case gender equality. Explaining he said, the ILO Convention no. 111 is against all forms of gender discrimination.
“The country is a member of the African Union (AU), the Southern African Development Community (SADC), East African Community (EAC) which have all enforced issues of gender equality in the work place. He noted that the Constitution is also against group segregation requiring all to be equal with no discrimination and further advocates against all forms on violence
He explained that labour laws were enacted by adhering to what the Constitution needs which is basically equality in the work place where both women and men are treated equally.
Women can sigh a breath of relief as the current labour laws gives women right to access maternity leave, breastfeeding leave and free medical care during pregnancy.
House helps, the majority being women also have their rights recognized , labour Commissioner Malata he said the government notice of 2013, put a minimum wage for household to be Sh40, 000 for sleep in house girls and Sh80, 000 for those who do not sleep in.
Fighting gender inequality is everyone’s responsibility. A happy woman is the backbone of national development.