12 October 2017

Tanzania: Why Women Should Remember Mwl Nyerere


THIS has been 'The Mwalimu Julius Nyerere week'. As the nation is set to commemorate the 18th anniversary since Mwalimu Julius Nyerere departed on October 14, 1999, a lot have been discussed about him in his legacy.

The Arusha Declaration has been part and parcel of the discussions in radio and Television stations and feature articles in local newspapers written.

The 1967 declaration, famously known as 'Azimio la Arusha' contained the key features of socialism and Mwalimu Nyerere, the founding father of the nation's philosophical point of view is well contained in it.

Though former Tanzania Assembly Speaker, Pius Msekwa says there are some weaknesses during the implementation of Socialism and Self-reliance backed by the Arusha Declaration, he admits that there are a lot to learn and still to be implemented.

Decades have passed since the Arusha Declaration came into effect as the nation has been commemorating 18th anniversary since Mwalimu Nyerere passed away in London Hospital, United Kingdom.

Currently, right groups in the country have invested heavily in supporting gender parity movements in the country. Education, economic empowerment, domestic violence and gender based budget have been top on its agenda.

On the other side, Vice President Samia Suluhu Hassan has been very supportive to women on the right movement geared towards rescuing women from all forms of segregation.

However, did Mwalimu Nyerere's brain child-Azimio la Arusha laid foundation for women rights? Examining the content of the Arusha Declaration, the Tanganyika African National Union (TANU) had stipulated principles that entail a lot about the women's rights.

In this article, some of these principles are going to be discussed in relation to gender movements in the country.

It was declared that "all human beings are equal" and the Arusha Declaration believed that there should not be segregation in respect to their sex, religion and tribe affiliation. Hence, in accessing social services, or utilizing available resources available in the country, women were not been left behind in the declaration.

Therefore, gender movements aimed at bringing equality should be ongoing process, until all traditional forms which act as obstacles toward eradicating gender inequality in the society being addressed. For many years now, Tanzania has been struggling for women empowerment on economic, social and political spheres. As of now, women are seeking a 50-50 per cent of representation in the Parliament.

It was during Mwalimu Nyerere tenure that it was declared through the Arusha Declaration of 1967 that "every citizen is an integral part of the nation and has the right to take an equal part in government at local, regional and national levels." The term "citizen" does not omit woman.

Mwalimu Nyerere treated all human beings equally, hence the 50-50 demand of representation in the Parliament or any posts in the public and even private sector can also be traced from the Arusha Declaration.

"Every individual has a right to dignity and respect," is another loaded phrase proclaimed in the 1967's declaration. Everyone needs to be respected regardless of gender, religion or tribe affiliation. There are some traditions that affect women causing endless domestic violence in the community.

Stakeholders from both public and private institutions should spearhead to build the society that treats woman with respect and dignity.

The Arusha Declaration stated that all citizens together should own all the natural resources in the country in trust for their descendants. But in this context, land has been a contentious issue in many tribes in the country and left women behind in owning it.

Women have mostly been engaged in agricultural activities, but denied the land ownership. Rights' activists have been fighting for this for many years in vain. Though, there have been positive outcome out of the movement seen in some tribes, where women have been allowed to own land for agriculture and other economic activities. In both formal and informal sector, women are earning little in comparison to their counterparts, men.

A CNBC feature titled "Men still earn more than women with the same jobs," published last year states that studies have shown that even when a woman has the same level of education with a man, the latter can be paid higher.

"Even when comparing the sexes with the same job title in the same company and using similar education and experience, the gender pay gap still persists: Men earned 2.4 percent more than women on average, down slightly from last year," PayScale was quoted by the CNBC. Since inequality in pay between men and women has been a global issue, TANU spotted this and insisted on economic justice for all.

It is the role of the leaders and local activists now to team up and make sure that everyone in the society enjoys basic human rights and women's position recognized in the society not as mere observers.


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