Harris hails Samia on women empowerment 

VICE President Kamala Harris has applauded President Samia Suluhu Hassan’s efforts to support women in the country as Tanzania’s first female head of state.

She made the remark during a media briefing with President Samia at State House in Dar es Salaam on Thursday.

In addition, as a historic female leader in the continent, “we will emphasise the vital job you have done to support women in Tanzania,” added Ms Harris.

“As I have said many times, women must be able to fully participate in economic, political and social life around the world,” she continued, adding that women must also be allowed to engage in leadership positions on an equal basis.

Ms Harris further said that when you lift up the economic status of women, you lift up the economic status of families, communities and the society.

“And yesterday I was proud to announce more than 1 billion US dollars in public- and private-sector commitments to support the empowerment of women on the continent,” she said.

The funding will support expanding access to digital services, job training and support for entrepreneurs.

Harris started her trip on Sunday in Ghana before flying late on Wednesday to Tanzania’s commercial capital Dar es Salaam, where she met President Samia yesterday and will close her trip with a stop in Zambia.

President Samia Suluhu Hassan became the first female president of Tanzania in March 2021 following the death of her predecessor. Although her time in office has been relatively short, she has already taken several steps to promote gender equality in the country.

As Tanzania’s first female president, President Samia has also advanced the cause of gender parity. She has made considerable strides towards gender equality by appointing a number of women to top positions within her government.

Apart from appointing several women to prominent positions within the government, her efforts have also been directed towards addressing Gender Based Violence (GBV) in the country. In October 2022, she called for stronger laws and measures to protect women from abuse and discrimination, saying said her government was considering a GBV law.

However, she acknowledges that there is still much work to be done, particularly in raising awareness of the laws in rural areas where risky cultural customs prevail, saying legislation alone cannot stop GBV.

Another area that President Samia has worked on is the establishment of empowerment platforms, whereby as of February this year, 17 regions have already formed 3,098 platforms to help women to become more productive and promote decent work for women both in the formal and informal economy.

Tanzania has more women cabinet ministers than ever before. After several cabinet reshuffles, nine out of 25 ministries, or 36 per cent, are currently headed by women.

President Samia while speaking at the fourth intergenerational retreat hosted by the groundbreaking African Women Leaders Network (AWLN) last year, said Tanzania has managed to increase women’s participation in leadership and decision-making positions, such as having nine cabinet ministers while 37 percent of parliamentarians are women.

“In the High Court and Court of Appeal, 47 per cent of judges are women; in the primary and district level courts, women magistrates comprise 38 per cent. In 2005, we had only 3 per cent female diplomats, but that number has now risen to 23 per cent,” she said.

President Samia added: “I am aware that many countries in Africa have done an incredible job when it comes to women’s inclusion in leadership and economic ventures. In my opinion, our continent will be in the capable hands of women in 20 to 30 years.”

Since she got into power, President Samia appointed a total of 43 High Court Judges and nine more for the Court of Appeal. Out of the number, 23 were women.

The appointment of Regional Administrative Secretaries (RAS) saw four more women being appointed, bringing the total to 12 female RAS out of 26, making the percentage of female RAS 46 per cent.

The number of female commissioners in the National Election Commission has increased to three in a seven-people commission. The appointment of the first female Director of Presidential Communications and first female Clerk of the National Assembly are also historic.

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