8 March 2018

Tanzania: Recognise, Value Rural Women's Contributions, Says Minister

AS the world celebrates the International Women's Day today, Minister of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, Ummy Mwalimu has asked Tanzanians to recognise and value the contribution of women in rural areas and assist them to participate and benefit from the industrial economy.

This year's International Women's Day theme states, "Time is Now: Rural and urban activists transforming women's lives." Ms Mwalimu said that in recognition of genderbased issues and contribution of women in the country's development, the government has rectified various international protocols and agreements that aim at supporting women. She added that the fifth government has been improving environment for women including those in rural areas for inclusive economic development. According to Ms Mwalimu, the World Economic Forum (WEF) has listed Tanzania top in inclusive economy among African countries in 2018.

Inclusive growth is economic development that creates opportunity for all segments of the population and distributes the dividends of increased prosperity, both in monetary and non-monetary terms, fairly across society.

The report also indicated how Tanzania considers gender-based issues in building up the economy. Meanwhile, various local and international organisations have urged Tanzanians to join their compatriots across the globe to campaign for equality and an end to discrimination and violence against women. They commented that ahead of celebrations of Women's Day today, there is need for women across the world to fight violence and ensure welfare is guaranteed.

A statement released by HelpAge International states that it is high time women stand together to fight any forms of violence. "Violence against older women is hidden, underestimated or ignored, dismissed as a private matter between relatives. It is no surprise, therefore, that it is widely under-reported and regarded as an accepted norm," reads part of the statement.

Joseph Mbasha, Programme Manager for Rights at HelpAge in the country, said that there is an urgent need for the government to speed up the implementation of the national strategy to combat older people's killings, as well as the enactment of older people's law, which will be key in addressing the social ills that older people, particularly older women, are subjected to, in our communities.

"Violence, abuse and neglect against older women do not only happen behind closed doors. It happens on public transport, in hospitals and in shops and markets where they are often ignored and insulted," he said.

The Tanzania Media Women Association (TAMWA) Executive Director, Ms Edda Sanga said her organisation joins others in the country to advocate women rights across the world. She said that statistics from the Police Force show that from November 2016 to November 2017, rape incidents have increased from 6,985 to 7,460 in the country. She said the statistics show that most of the victims are women and children.

According to Ms Sanga, such criminal acts delay development activities since 'wananchi', including the victims, spend time inhospitals, police stations and in courts making follow-ups of their cases. She said the commemoration of Women's Day among other things is aimed at measuring the implementation of various international and regional agreements and protocols on various issues related to women's rights.

The UN Under Secretary- General and Executive Director of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, said that this year's theme captures the vibrant life of women activists whose passion and commitment have won women's rights over the generations and successfully brought change. "We celebrate an unprecedented global movement for women's rights, equality, safety and justice, recognising the tireless work of activists who have been central to this global push for gender equality," she said in a statement released by UN.

She said that what is seen today is a remarkable gathering of strength among women all over the world, demonstrating the power of speaking with one voice, as they call for opportunity and accountability, drawing momentum from grassroots networks and coalitions that stretch right up to government leadership. She added that healthy societies have a wide mix of voices and influences that provide the checks and balances, the differing threads of experience and perspectives and the debate that shapesgood decision making.

Where voices are missing, there is an important gap in the fabric of society. "We commend the women who spoke out in the International Criminal Court where their testimonies have held to account those who used rape as a weapon of war.

We celebrate and we recognise those who advocated legal reform in various countries to end a provision that allowed rapists to escape persecution if they married their victims," she said.

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