Dar es Salaam — Tanzanian gender activists have stated that they don't want to wait for 99 years to secure gender equality. The sentiments are a result of a recent report by World Economic Forum (WEF) which reveals that the global gender gap will take another 99 years to close - and yet another 99.5 years to achieve global gender equality!
However, discussions during the eighth edition of Mwananchi Thought Leadership Forum (MTLF) - a quarterly forum initiated by Mwananchi Communication Ltd (MCL) - were focused on closing the gender gap sooner.
"Let other countries wait for that long. We, Tanzanians, can't wait," a National Coordinator, Women in Law and Development Africa (WILDAF), Ms Anna Kulaya, noted during the MTLF event on Thursday night held in Dar es Salaam.
In order to achieve success, it was voiced that everyone needs to get involved in the fight against Gender-Based Violence (GBV) and help in efforts to close the gender gap.
"Every one of us, males and females in our different positions, must take part in protecting the rights of women and children," Kulaya said.
According to her, there are many initiatives that are coordinated nationwide to inspire people to take action against gender-based violence.
Ms Kulaya applauded Tanzania for joining the annual 16 Days of Activism to End GBV, an annual initiative which is celebrated globally.
She believes that quick change is possible but it requires determination and involvement of everyone in the society.
"It hurts to see that, one in three women experiences violence solely because she is female," she said.
Chief executive officer of the Legal Services Facility (LSF), Ms Lulu Ng'wanakilala, said Tanzania deserves kudos when it comes to gender parity in employment and civic space.
She said the appointment of women to top government positions like presidential, judiciary and parliamentary bodies is a commendable step.
She is happy with having Samia Suluhu Hassan as Vice President, and Tulia Ackson as Deputy Speaker of Parliament.
"The existing policies and laws are supportive enough to have both men and women in top managerial positions in both public and private sectors," she said.
According to her, any group of people (gender) feels happy when they see people with the same characters (same gender) representing them in certain activities.
"Men and women differ in many ways such as thoughts, experiences and lifestyles. With this in mind, women feel safe when they see their fellow women representing them in certain activities," she explained.
However, Ng'wanakilala said despite the best achievements in some sectors, there are some areas where gender parity still needs a lot of improvement. The progress so far is encouraging.
On the global scale, Tanzania is improving on the ranking of countries that are closing the gender gap, particularly in economic participation.
The latest Global Gender Gap report shows that the country ranked 63rd out of 153 countries in economic participation and opportunities in 2020, up from 72 in 2018.
However, it is said that almost 60 percent of Tanzanian women live in extreme poverty, and the situation of women in rural areas is particularly dire, as poverty is a predominantly rural phenomenon in Tanzania.
Executive Secretary of the National Economic Empowerment Council (NEEC) Beng'i Issa said that the government is coming up with various policies, laws, programs and strategies to empower women economically in the belief that doing so also empowers the society.
According to her, Tanzania needs to improve women's incomes if it is to end GBV and close the gap soon.
"When women are well financed, they can avoid gender violence because they become independent," she noted.
Achieving the motive, Ms Issa wants the government to formalize small businesses which are mostly dominated by women, encouraging them to earn more.
"The formalization helps women businesses be bankable and also be identified in terms of their capital muscles and whereabouts," she noted.
The private sector has a big role to play, according to the managing director of Songas, Mr Anael Samuel.
"Private institutions must create windows of engaging more women in top positions with a view of motivating young girls," said Samuel.
He said doing so would encourage other girls in schools and universities to fight for the positions.
"Women in top managerial positions will be role models to the majority of young girls," he said, insisting on the hiring only competitive women to the positions.
"Believe me, girls are heavily overworked after school compared to boys. If you see a girl graduate from university, believe that she has passed through tough moments," he said.
According to him, women should be considered with extra attention during job interviews.
"We need to empower women but it doesn't mean that we should favour them. We give them extra attention in interviews but we must select them based on their competitiveness," he clarified.
Citing Songas, Mr Samuel said that they are currently recruiting fresh students from colleges and universities with consideration of gender equity.
"We take fresh graduates, with 50 percent of them being women. This helps us to groom new talented girls who will hold top positions in the future," he said.