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Government warns unscrupulous sanitary towels dealers

THE government yesterday warned traders who still sell sanitary pads at exorbitant prices while it has already waived taxes on the commodity, saying stern measures will be taken against them. 

The Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa sounded the warning during the launch of a strategy and work-plan aimed at involving gender issues in Parliamentary activities. 

He mentioned some of the measures as revocation of licences for importing, selling, producing or distributing the commodity. 

Presenting the national budget in June, this year, the Minister for Finance and Planning, Dr Philip Mpango, announced waiver of taxes on sanitary pads in order to enable more women especially schoolgirls to access the commodity. 

In another development, Mr Majaliwa called for efforts to ensure gender balance by registering 50 per cent women representation in Parliament. 

He said that currently, the Parliament of Tanzania contains only 40 per cent women. 

The Premier stated that Parliament has been playing a big role in forming strategies and plans for the country’s development, adding that there could be no meaningful development without involving women and men in decision making. 

According to the PM, the number of women in parliament is still smaller compared to men and that there is need for increasing them so that they can share experience, skills and expertise in decision making and bringing about development in the country. 

“We need to increase the number of women in the House, the current number is not enough, we should at least reach 50/50 in the coming years,” he noted. 

Mr Majaliwa added that such changes should also happen in other sectors as well to ensure women participate fully in building the country. He said statistics show that the number of women at management level is only 15 per cent, while the remaining 85 per cent is occupied by men. 

On official employment, women are only 37 per cent while the remaining are men. Earlier, Speaker of National Assembly, Job Ndugai said for some years Parliament has been considering gender balance in its decisions. 

He said whenever committees and subcommittees are formed, women have been  involved to ensure both gender are involved in decision making.

“We have been considering women when selecting MPs to represent us to Pan African Parliament (PAP) and Common Wealth parliamentary sessions,” he said.

He added that Rwanda tops UN list of countries with most women in parliament. He said the number of women in the House is 60 per cent while that of men is only 40 percent. 

“The number of women in Parliament in Rwanda is vice-versa to us, they are 60 percent and men are 40 percent, we need to consider increasing the number as well,” he said.

Mr Ndugai said there is need for Ministers to make sure they explain how their ministries implement issues related to gender.

“I would like to ask ministers to make sure they come up with reports on how their offices have considered gender balance in implementing their budgets, we would like to see this in budget speeches every year,” he noted.

Deputy Speaker who doubles as Project co-Chairperson, Dr Tulia Ackson said in the past 18 months of preparing the plan MPs, members of Parliamentary Committees and workers have received training on gender-based issues.

He added that Parliament has also purchased Information and Technology (IT) equipment, prepared bills, analysed guidelines, parliamentary research manual and many others.

Mr Godfrey Mulisa, who represented the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Representative said the plan place Tanzania parliament in the list of Parliaments in the World that have adopted strategic plans for empowering women and boosting gender equality.

He said there could be no true development without involving women.

In a quick reaction, Tanzania Gender Networking Programme (TGNP) Executive Director, Lilian Liundi supported the move saying it will help to give equal opportunities among wananchi.

However, she said there should be mechanisms for making a follow up on the plan’s implementation. “There must be a monitoring strategy to ensure all agreed items in the plan are implemented, but generally we support and commend this move,” she said.

Earlier, the Clerk of the National Assembly, Stephen Kagaigai, told MPs that the plan is aimed at promoting gender equality in all parliamentary systems.

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Author: FLORENCE MUGARULA in Dodoma

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