DESPITE efforts by the government and other stakeholders to promote women for them to engage in politics and leadership positions, progress is slow as many women, particularly in rural areas, continue to face difficulties in climbing the ladder of leadership.
In line with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), various initiatives are being implemented to empower women, although they still face obstacles that prevent them from reaching their full potential.
Among others, the SDGs call for women’s empowerment, ensuring women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision making in political, economic and public life.
A recent survey in Kisarawe District, Coast Region singles out structural impediments mostly put up by political parties and top administrative personnel, preventing women from accessing political and administrative posts.
“Most women have the desire to be in political and leadership positions, but they find it difficult due to policies that are put up by the political parties,” says Josephine Mwanga, a political leader in Kisarawe District.
Ms Mwanga says some political parties can only accept and accord political and leadership positions to a person who has served the party for over five years...a move she said was difficult for many women to achieve.
“Some women find it difficult to serve in a political party for over five years before being recognised for politics and leadership.
They see the move as wastage of time and opt for other businesses,” she says and adds, “Through the five years, the people desiring to climb the political and leadership ladder have to go various stages where they encounter challenges that some women cannot bear.”
She suggests change of political systems in order to allow women and men with desire and competent to climb the political ladder, to do so easily.
Statistics availed to this reporter indicate that Kisarawe has only three women out of 17 councillors in the district and zero women at constituency level.
“Kisarawe could have been a very different place if more women were in charge of political and leadership positions in the area.
They know how to respond and get into the societies’ problems as quick as possible,” she adds. According to the survey, many people commend women as intelligent, honest, compassionate as well as creative.
“Women are better positioned to take political and leadership roles especially in both top and low political leadership positions; they are honest, have compassion and are intelligent,” says one Sospeter Mwonga, an elder in the area.
Mr Mwonga points out that poor perceptions are still hogging people and they believe that women are incapable and are weak and not capable of holding political and administrative posts.
“The perceptions are absurd because we have good examples of lucky women in politics; their performance even outshine men,” he said and singled out that Pili Chamguni is one of the women councillors in the district, who demonstrates women’s potential in politics and leadership positions at ward level.
“She is honest and outgoing and is a better political leader in comparison to others. She leads in arguments to ensure her citizens have all they deserve,” says Mr Mwonga.
The ideal woman Councillor (Ms Pili Chamguni) joined the political ladder in 1990, but was honoured with a position in 2010 where she served as a Councillor.
“Political journey has never been easy, but with the dedication, I thank God I’m making it through. I joined politics because I love it, and the main aim was to become a leader so that I can help my community,” she accounts.
Ms Chamguni now a Councillor for Masaki Ward in Kisarawe District, where she has served the ward for over 7 years, wishes to compete for parliamentary seat in order to represent her community in the parliament.
“I have experience in politics and leadership; since I started my journey and now serving my community at ward level, I know what they want in terms of economic, social services and development among others,” she said.
Ms Chamguni is accepted by the community she leads because of her compassion, honesty and creativity in ensuring her people have all they need.
“Being a leader is to work and respond to people’s needs; that is what I do for Masaki people, I make sure they get all the needs.... services such as health, water, schools, social infrastructure like roads among others,” she says.
“If you do all that, it is easy to build trust in the community so that they can continue appointing you to lead them,” she says, adding that women are better positioned to take the tasks of leading because of dedication and compassion they have.
“I know that climbing the ladder of political leadership has never been easy especially at the starting point; many women with passion to lead fail at the first stage because of structural impediments from political parties,” she said.
Worldwide, Tanzania was at position 25 with 36.9 per cent of women parliamentarians, while Rwanda which was top in the list had 61.3 per cent.
However, it was dismaying to see political parties are still lagging behind in putting trust on women.
According to the Tanzania Gender Networking Programme (TGNP), there is no single woman at the position of chairpersons of all registered political parties, adding that of all 38 vice-chairpersons of political parties, only four parties out of 19 had women on that position.
“It is in the public knowledge that Tanzania ratified international and regional protocols and conventions including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) of 1948, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the SADC Gender and Development Protocol,” says TGNP Executive Director, Lilian Liundi. Promotion of women’s participation in politics and decision making is among the four critical areas of concern for Tanzania.
The Government has changed regulations and taken affirmative action to include women in decision making.
The Parliament passed a Bill in 2000 to increase the seats.
In local government councils women are assured of 33 per cent of seats, while in the Union Parliament women are assured of 20 per cent of the seats.
The Government has planned to increase the participation of women in politics to 30 per cent by the year 2005. In the year 2000 elections, women were mobilised to contest for both parliamentary seats and special seats for women to reach the 30 per cent set aside in parliament.
Extra efforts were to be made to ensure that a large proportion of women register for elections both as voters and candidates. Media campaigns and public meetings for awareness creation were part of the strategy to achieve this.
The second thrust was on increasing the number of women in decision making positions and this was to be achieved through Government appointments and other public structures.