12 December 2012

Tanzania: Plan to Increase Role of Women in Development

Zanzibar — WOMEN participation in the development of Zanzibar, especially at decision making level is set to increase should the ongoing efforts to enhance their voices succeed.

The initiatives to increase women voices in Zanzibar is mainly on capacity building, lobbying and advocacy skills aiming at having more women participation at all levels of leadership. "The target is to have at least 3,600 women from 60 Shehias (wards) on Unguja and Pemba Islands trained.

We want them to have skills of lobbying so that their views are considered and integrated in development plans," said Ms Halima Msellem, the Capacity Building Programme Manager. Ms Msellem said the programme was being implemented by the Tanzania Media Women Association (TAMWA) - Zanzibar with support from UNWOMEN under its Support Women in Accessing Leadership Positions (SWALP) project which started in October, this year.

She said that the participants include women from the local administration: Shehia community leaders, councillors, village coordinators, members from the grassroot network in villages and some women rights activists in rural areas.

The programme manager said that the aim of UNWOMEN and TAMWA is help women to have a say not only in family life, but also in the priorities of their community, their region and their country such as pushing for better health provision in their villages and legal rights.

She said the project was also aimed to help promote communication among groups of women on the ground so that they share ideas and skills, develop confidence and form networks. "Once women are able to participate at a local level and realise they can influence public life, many of them feel motivated to get involved in political competition and in decision making groups from grassroot," Halima said.

She said that in most cases political and economic instability coupled with gender inequality worsens women's situation, pushing them further into challenges like violence. The violence include domestic violence, sexual violence and rape and HIV and AIDS infection which is increased by violence and inequalities in marriages and relationships; limited representation and participation in decision making.

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