BOOSTING women’s economic empowerment in the country is not only the right thing to do, but also smart for sustainable and inclusive growth.
It is now well-documented that working women contribute significantly to the growth of their own development and national economies.
Having more women acquire education, skills and a stronger participation in employment, entrepreneurship and public life could substantially accelerate economic growth in the country.
Research shows that closing the gender gap in labor force participation rates would significantly increase the GDP of a country.
This year’s commemorations of the International Women’s Day in Tanzania placed more emphasis on boosting women’s economic empowerment.
To mark the women’s day, the Dar es Salaam women economic empowerment forum famously known as Jukwaa la Kuwawezesha Wanawake Kiuchumi Dar es Salaam (JUWADA) in collaboration with a famous fashion designer, Ms Khadija Mwanamboka recently organized an event dubbed ‘Tanzanite Women Forum and Lunch’, with one of its goals being raising funds for the establishment of a women training center.
According to the Chairperson of JUWADA, Ms Mariam Mungula, the training center aims to equip women with different skills which are associated with using their hands.
Upon the start of its operation, the intention will be to help about 60 women gain different hand skills annually. She observed that 20 women who will benefit from the programme have already been spotted from the group.
Ms Mungula said that the time has come for women to support each other in addressing the gender gap for them to realize their full economic potential.
“We are used to saying women are a big army, but in the group there are women from different cadres and status, therefore we need to support each other so that every woman can rise to the top.
“In demonstrating that we are indeed a big army, we need to practically show that we can influence the lives of our fellow women, help them raise their incomes and in turn contribute to the economy of the country,” said Ms Mungula.
The Chairperson disclosed that a space for carrying out the training session has been obtained through the support of the National Housing Corporation (NHC).
She said that because Tanzania has committed to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s), the commitment represents an important opportunity for the region to accelerate action on gender equality and women’s empowerment.
Therefore she said JUWADA acts as a channel to exchange knowledge and advocate gender-balanced approaches in the regional economy, adding that the network comes within a broader vision to accelerate the participation of women in the workforce and improve economic performance.
She further says that it connects stakeholders to ensure that marginalized women in these countries receive capacity building, advocacy, information and partnerships that address the barriers that have impeded their access and engagement in economic and public lives.
The Dar es Salaam Regional Coordinator of JUWADA, Dr. Eliza Mshote revealed that the women economic empowerment forum (WEEF) is an opportunity garnered under the national economic empowerment desk focusing on reducing the existing gender gap.
Dr. Mshote pointed out that in 2015, the United Nations saw it vital to establish such platforms to promote women participation in economic activities in collaboration with other stakeholders to surpass the existing gap. The platforms were launched in the country in 2016 by Vice President Samia Suluhu Hassan.
Along with the establishment of the forums, a directive was issued for similar platforms to be launched countrywide, starting from the street to the regional level.
The Dar es Salaam chapter was launched in 2017, taking the 23rd spot in the list of 26 forums launched across the country.
She said that Dar es Salaam alone has a membership of 27,000 women cutting across different sectors from upper to the grassroots’ level in all five districts of the region.
Such platforms, she says, plays a crucial role of identifying challenges facing women in their respective areas to come up with solutions and connect them with different stakeholders.
The government, she adds, is also playing a big role by creating an enabling environment for the women to operate.
“If we are able to demonstrate that we can, the government does not hesitate to show their support,” said the Regional Coordinator. She encouraged more women to enroll in JUWADA for their business ideas to gain support from the government.
On the other hand, Ms Mwanamboka who was among the organizers and sponsor of the event through her newly established platform dubbed ‘Ujuzi Initiative’ said the event is an important platform for women to acquire different skills to development.
She pointed out that the issue of unemployment in the country is on the rise, which is the reason she decided to come up with ‘Ujuzi Initiative’ to help women and youth obtain knowledge and skills in different areas which they can employ themselves.
She identified such areas to include art, sewing, beauty industry, and decoration. Ujuzi Initiative, she says, aims to go beyond the formal type of education to teach and engage women and youth in activities related to art.
“Ujuzi Initiative is going to implant important skills and knowledge which will help women and youth fit in the market by engaging themselves with innovative businesses” said Ms Mwanamboka.
She extended recognition to the sponsors who made it possible for the event to take place, including NHC, Anuflo Industries Ltd through their product Hedhi Cup, Ley Jewelers and a renowned Tanzanian International model, Ms Miriam Odemba who travelled all the way from France to attend the event.
The event was lined up with several activities, including motivational speakers such as Mwanahamisi Singano (feminist), Lavie- Makeup and Frola Njelekele, the CEO of Anuflo Industries Ltd.
Others are fund raising auction, fashion show from designers including Zamda George, Malika Designers, Mgece Cici Designs, Vivyshaa, Abdul Mwene, Mustafa Hassanali, Asya Khamsin, Katty Collection and Irada Style.