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Zanzibar shows progress in advancing women’s rights

Generation Equality was launched in 2021 at the Generation Equality Forum hosted in Mexico City and Paris. The Forum launched a five year action agenda encapsulated in a Global Acceleration Plan for gender equality, which defines the most critical actions necessary to accelerate progress in the next five years. 

The Forum also launched six Action Coalitions and a Global Compact on Women, Peace, Security and Humanitarian Action, each of which is spear-heading a critical part of the Generation Equality agenda.

At the Forum hosted in Paris, diverse trailblazing stakeholders made over 1,000 policy, programme and financial commitments, representing an unprecedented aggregate value of $40 billion. 

The 2021 Forum marked the beginning of a multi-year process. Generation Equality leaders and allies will work aggressively over the coming four years to ensure accountability for commitments already made, secure transformative new commitments and enlarge and energize global cross-sector movements for equality.

In 2023, the Midpoint Moment for Generation Equality took place at the UN Headquarters in New York City and online on 17 September.

The event, convened by UN Women and the co-leadership of the governments of Iceland and Tanzania, was a critical moment for Generation Equality as it sought to assess, energize and grow its bold agenda for gender equality acceleration, building from its launch at the Generation Equality Forum in 2021.

The 2023 Generation Equality Midpoint event provided an important opportunity to mobilize sustained attention to and investment in gender equality as an accelerator for the SDGs at a time when women’s rights are under increased threats globally and progress has stalled and reversed in more than 30 percent of the SDGs.

Zanzibar as part of the United Republic of Tanzania was represented by its Minister for Community Development, Gender, Women, Elders and Children, Riziki Pembe Juma along with the Ministry’s Principal Secretary, Abeda Rashid Abdalla and House Deputy Speaker, Mgeni Hassan Juma.

In her maiden speech, Pembe reaffirmed the Zanzibar commitments towards achieving generation equality through advancing women’s economic justice and rights.

“Tanzania membership to the Global Alliance for Care has been key instrument for Zanzibar, providing a platform for learning and knowledge exchange on effective policies and programmatic actions that tackle the unequal distribution of care work, which inhibits women’s social and professional growth,” she said.

In Zanzibar, for instance she said women spend just over four hours on unpaid work, compared to 0.7 hours for men.

To address the challenges she said, Tanzania and Zanzibar have incorporated specialised modules into the Household Budget Survey which measure the time allocation between men and women in both economic and non-economic activities.

Generation Equality aims to ensure that the bold ambitions of the 1995 Beijing Platform for Action on women’s rights are finally implemented, and that the Sustainable Development Goals are achieved.

The Forum also launched six Action Coalitions and a Global Compact on Women, Peace, Security and Humanitarian Action, each of which is spear-heading a critical part of the Generation Equality agenda.

Dr. Samia Suluhu Hassan, the President of the United Republic of Tanzania has committed to champion the implementation of the Economic Justice and Rights action coalition as an accelerator to women’s empowerment.

Therefore, July 2023 marks the mid-point moment in the implementation of the five years GEF commitments. 

Policy, legal and institutional framework for  women empowerment in Tanzania

Tanzania has been at the forefront of promoting gender equality and women empowerment since independence. Both the 1977 Constitution of Tanzania and that of Zanzibar of 1984 declare the equality of persons as a right. The two constitutions prohibit all forms of discrimination.

Based on the foregoing efforts, gender equality, women’s economic empowerment and women participation in leadership and decision making are priorities enshrined in all relevant laws, policies, and development frameworks of Tanzania.

Achievements in the implementation of GEF national commitments

Zanzibar has established 54 early childhood development centers and Tanzania mainland over 3,033 to reduce time spent by women for child care.

Likewise, Tanzania and other stakeholders established nursing rooms in-offices and market places which are used by women for nursing.

Water supply and sanitation services have been also improved whereby 77% of the Tanzania rural population and 88% of the urban population now have access to such services hence making an increase of a total of 3,575,919 households in rural and 2,345,537 in urban areas having clean and safe water at or near their homesteads.

Furthermore, 76.7% of households have been connected with the national electricity grid in rural areas of Tanzania Mainland. Similarly, a total of 554,992 households equivalent to 75% in Zanzibar have access to clean and safe water.

Zanzibar also during reporting time, continued to improve accessibility of electricity services whereby 573 households were connected to the national grid. These initiatives have contributed significantly to reduce the burden of domestic chores to women and hence have more time to engage in other productive activities.

Over 2.2 million women accessed knowledge on entrepreneurship, including the use of marketable relevant technologies, value chain, financial literacy, leadership and marketing.

The trainings on entrepreneurship to women entrepreneurs are a prerequisite before any issuance of loans. During the reporting period, loans totaling Sh748 billion were issued to 1,349,144 (Mainland 1,337,679 and Zanzibar 11,465) women entrepreneurs through Local Government Authorities internal revenues, Women Development Fund, National Entrepreneur Development Fund, Zanzibar Economic Empowerment Authorities, and other financial institutions.

Tanzania also continues to promote women’s access to and usage of financial services and products as explained by the reduction of the gender gap in financial inclusion from 10% in 2017 to 4% in 2023.

According to Finscope survey, 2023, the financial inclusion gender gap reduction is attributed among others by the increase in percentage of women using banking services from 66% in 2017 to 80% in 2023, women using Sacco’s services from 66% to 81% and women using microfinance institutions from 1.2% to 2.1%, respectively.

These developments in women financial inclusion are results of the increase in provision of National Identification Number (NIN) to women, in which by June 2023, 10,521,596 women were given NIN compared to 10,163,061 women in April 2022. The NIN is a major criterion for women to open bank accounts and have access to different financial services including mobile money.

These are few of the many exemplary achievements realized in the short implementation period. However, there are still challenges to achieve real success.

Challenges

These challenges include the existence of violence against women and children, negative impacts of climate change and economic systems that leave women and girls behind and the persistence of harmful cultural gender norms and institutional barriers that hinder women’s access to productive resources such as land, finance, support, knowledge, and information.

Others are lack of mechanisms for quantification of the contribution of unpaid care work and domestic work, lack of mechanisms for accounting public and private spending for children as investments in future human capacities, and inadequate funding to facilitate implementation of initiatives for achieving gender equality and equity in the country, inadequate sex and gender desegregated statistics from sectors to inform decision- making among others.

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