WOMEN in the country and Africa in general have been called on to advance women economic empowerment in unity.
The call was made yesterday by Vice-President Samia Suluhu Hassan when inaugurating the Women Advancing Africa Forum (WAA) in Dar es Salaam, stressing that for decades women and girls had been 'visibly invisible' in the society.
"Today I want to tell you my fellow colleagues, sisters, daughters, nieces and granddaughters that we women should stand as one and decide that advancing women economic empowerment should not only be our moral imperative, but justice to humanity," VicePresident Samia stressed.
The VP expressed her disappointment that 20 years after the Beijing Platform of Action and conclusion of implementation of MDGs with stand alone goals on women empowerment, there are still women entrenched in abject poverty.
"These women have poor access to land, credit, health and education, experience discrimination and exploitation and who do not have a voice and political decision on their life," she noted.
She added: "The above grim picture I have painted is a clear manifestation of the deeply entrenched societal norms and beliefs which have continued to hold ransom the lives of a number of women, while the socio-economic imbalances tend to aggravate the situation further."
She commended the wise selection of sectors including energy, extractive and infrastructure services, trade, media and creative industries, for discussions saying they are important for empowering women and reducing poverty and to bring about social transformation.
"This platform provides us with yet another opportunity to renew our collective efforts and commitment in identifying solutions and pitching new ideas that will ensure every woman lives a life of dignity and is not left behind in the development bandwagon," she explained.
The VP said as much as there is dynamic and profound change of the role of women in the sectors, much still needs to be done to close the economic gender gap and achieve gender parity.
"It's my sincere hope that the three-day deliberations will be hinged on identifying practical, relevant and timely oppor tunities that will expand the inclusion of women as workforce, business persons, leaders and entrepreneurs," she added.
Among the forums as gender is addressing policy bottlenecks, scaling up interventions and creating a database of technical experts, professionals and social pioneers who will take action on the agreed innovations and policy.
Pan African Parlia ment's first President Dr Getrude Mongella underscored the importance of the forum in advancing women in Africa. "This meeting is very important because we are putting our brains together to see how we can move Africa forward from where we stand.
We cannot just wait for political leaders, we women of Africa are determined to change Africa," Dr Mongella explained.