Although gender equality and the empowerment of women are gaining ground worldwide, there is still a need to support rural women as a means to end hunger and poverty.
We have more women leaders today than there were around a decade ago and more girls go to school, but there is still a long way to go before women and girls can be said to enjoy their fundamental rights.
Rural women and girls make up one-quarter of the global population yet they are at the bottom of every economic, social and political indicator—from income and education to health and to participation in decision-making.
Despite rural women being a major part of the agricultural labour force performing most of the unpaid care work in rural areas, they continue to be held back in fulfilling their potential.
Investing in rural women is important in a nation’s development. Given the chance and equal access to productive resources, women can help wipe out hunger from the face of the world.
Discriminatory laws and practices affect not just women but entire communities and nations. Countries where women lack land ownership rights or access to credit have more malnourished children. It is strange that even in those countries with the best records there is under-representation of women in political and business decision-making.
Training girls and women in rural areas is another requirement for empowering them. They need to be given vocational education in agriculture. There is a good reason for this. The energy, talent and strength of women and girls represent humankind’s most valuable untapped natural resource.
Giving women soft loans, teaching them scientific ways of farming and preserving food products and creating a market where they can sell their products without the intervention of middlemen can improve the living standards of rural women.
SCIENCE TEACHERS ARE KEY
With the majority of Tanzania’s population made up of the youth, it is imperative that the government channels all its energy towards their welfare.
Education and health are among the most important pillars, and the government has invested heavily in the two sectors – from mandatory primary education to construction of classrooms and laboratories countrywide.
The future of children would not be assured without access to health care that has registered many successes in reducing infant mortality and creating a robust health care system.
But the teaching profession has yet to be at par with other vital professions such as medicine. It is one of the areas that need a lot of resources and creative thinking to come up with a winning formula.
Shortage of science teachers remains one of the biggest challenges in the education sector.
Arusha Region, for instance, is short of 966 teachers for biology, physics, mathematics and chemistry, according to acting regional Education Officer Emmanuel Mahundo.
The problem is not confined to Arusha Region, but affects the entire country.
The government should, therefore, seek a permanent solution to this challenge. It is one of the major factors behind the poor performance of science students in national examinations.