TANZANIA yesterday joined women and men of good will to mark the International Women’s Day (IWD) with a rather categorical statement that our womenfolk still face structural ‘barriers’ to their full participation in the country’s development effort.
In particular, Tanzania Gender Networking Programme (TGNP) Executive Director, Ms Lilian Liundi, told this newspaper in Dar es Salaam two days ago that full participation of women in the economy would help them derive direct benefits from the country’s industrialisation drive.
These are good and indeed, welcome sentiments about which this government – whose head of state is a keen listener to views from our womenfolk – had better take stock in good stead.
To start with, we’ve set for ourselves a roadmap: “Tanzania’s Industrialisation, Women are the Basis of Economic Change.” We could not have put it better, for women are undoubtedly the bedrock of our collective development effort.
And if that roadmap were the answer, what was the question – again? The first thing we need to own up, quickly, is the fact that our female partners are still victims of society’s structural ‘barriers’ everywhere – from stereotyping at family level to education and employment opportunities after they leave home; and from the right to property ownership to engaging in vocations of their choice.
It’s like one half of humanity (female) still needs the approval of the other half (male) just to live a decent lifestyle – of their choice – notably so in rural Tanzania.
When TGNP implores the government to work on the ‘hurdles’ that still hold back their full participation – even with due respect to the government’s record in recognising the role of women in the economy – there’s but one key reminder: We could do more, not just working on ‘token favours’ as it were, but making women’s full participation in this country’s economy what the development jet set now calls a running ‘cross-cutting’ issue.
It can be done and many of the issues raised during IWD festivities are worth working on not just during these festivities: It must ever remain etched on the in-tray marked: Unfinished Business.