Tanzania: 'Women's Role Vital in Industrial Agenda'

Farmers teaching farmers. Mwanaidi Ramadhani (left) is part of a local farmers organization in Mwasonge. Farmers like Mwanaidi have coached more than 1,800 farmers in Tanzania to grow this kind of sweet potato (file photo).

AGRICULTURE has been termed an entry point for women to the fourth industrial revolution and a critical input into the economic growth of Africa, via agro-processing manufacturing industries.

The Minister for Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, Ms Ummy Mwalimu, made the remarks on behalf of the Vice President Samia Suluhu Hassan at the opening of the Africa Reconnect Conference and Exhibition for women in Dar es Salaam, yesterday. "

I believe that one area where African women will thrive in industrialisation is the agro-processing industries as it fits many in Tanzania and the continent as they are already employed in the agricultural sector. "

Again, it is a fact that agriculture provides the basic raw materials for industrialisation; therefore the continent has a huge potential in agriculture because of its vast uncultivated land.

She pointed out that it is estimated that about 65 per cent of all uncultivated land in the world lies in Africa; this gives the continent an opportunity to shape up for a future of a food basket globally.

Ms Mwalimu pointed out that for African women to be part of the fourth industrial revolution, governments, the private sector in the countries among other stakeholders, need to work together to ensure sustainable models of capacity building for women are established so as to enable them cope with the emergency advancement in technologies.

She cited the World Bank, noting that whatever little income was generated by a woman from across the globe, it is re-invested in the development of the families. "There is evidence that if African women are involved in efficiency of the economy and participate fully in the fourth industrial revolution, the continent would benefit greatly economically from the grassroot levels by having reliable means of income to be used by families and communities.

This can only be established by creating the different value chains of the products as well as improving skills of acquiring specialised expertise at each stages of the process," she noted.

The minister also observed that to move forward, women should be inspired by synergies of competencies as women, by supporting one another rather than competing with each other.

She pointed out that the conference came at an opportune time, whereby its theme, "Positioning the African Women at the Centre of the Fourth Industrial Revolution" was also in line with the Tanzania vision 2025 and the Five Year Development Plan(FYDP) of becoming a middle income through an economy that is based on industries.

"Tanzania is now building up industries and it is indeed a reality. The country has placed its emphasis on establishing industries on leather, pharmaceuticals, hospitality, chemicals, livestock production, textiles and agricultural processing," said the minister.

Among other things, Ms Mwalimu saluted the organisers of the conference, pointing out that it had emphasized the critical role of women in the industrialisation of Africa. There was a significant importance of establishing close relations within the African continent on the one hand between Africa and other continents on the other.

"From a number of trainings and capacity building provided on agriculture, it is a clear indication that many women will be reached, indicating the need for greater efforts for African women to catch up with the fourth industrial revolution in the world," she said.

Participants in the conference include the Chairperson of the ruling party's women's Wing, UWT, Ms Gaudensia Kabaka, a distinguished personality, Mama Gertrude Mongella, and a famous South African musician Yvonne Chaka Chaka.

Plus, women from all walks of life, including the wives of ministers, former ministers, activists and women from various sectors. It was held under the sponsorship of TTB, Tanzania Standard Newspapers (publishers of the Daily News, Sunday News, HabariLeo, Habari Leo Jumapili and SpotiLeo), Azania Bank, Vodacom and Coca cola"GONE are the days when women pulled against each other and instead work together and stop rivalry competitions, for Africa as a continent to take its rightful course."

The remark was made yesterday in Dar es Salaam by the South Africa famous Musician, Entrepreneur and Humanitarian, Ms Vyonne Chaka Chaka, further adding that: "The world is changing at a very fast pace and it is now the time to reorganise ourselves to implement ways that would result into our competitive advantage. "

As elder women, let us take young women ahead, nurture them and make them what they want to be ... let us encourage our children to be what they want to be in this fourth industrial revolution." She pointed out that women should get the opportunity to fly and not sit down, relax and wait for things to be done for them, saying: "Now is the time for African women to reconnect and make proper use of the resources that are richly found in our countries for own benefits.

"Where an African has gone wrong, not to have a good education, infrastructure and all the good things ... let us use our resources and stop going out to beg for support all the times. "

When we get out of here, tell the things we have learnt at the conference and share them among our people and communities to make great changes," she advised. Presiding over the occasion, the President of Africa Reconnect based in South Africa, Ms Numdeni Chengeta, said the misconceived idea that women do not support one another was vague.

"Look at me, for instance, I do not know all these women who have come here today (yesterday) and yet they have decided to come and show their support," she said. Ms Chengeta hinted that her institution's main goal has been to reconnect African women as an entity, saying: "We don't have to say someone is from Tanzania, Kenya or South Africa ... we should say we are all African women and no one from one country is superior to the others."

She said encountering many challenges in the vision has made men to dominate the world sector(s) and in turn it was high time for women across the continent to reconnect and merge as one for possible solutions. "

Myself I am currently in the Mining and Logistics ... I think there are no professions which are specifically for men or women alone," she said. Ms Chengeta cited lack of finance as one of the challenges facing women in addressing their 'oneness' and climbing the ladder of success, hinting further that: "

However, when a woman wants to establish something, it would be perceived to be for a man. They are often times discriminated, segregated and this happens almost everywhere in the continent. "With this conference, women are being nurtured and incorporated especially in the male dominated sector and helped to grow and tackle such challenges."

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