As women march in Mnazi Mmoja grounds in Dar es Salaam, one can’t help thinking what the Women’s Day really means to Tanzanian Women. Is it about bringing awareness to issues and challenges of women, if so, do the women in the villages know about this particular day? Or is it for city women majority who are well aware of their rights.
Speaking to Sophia at the Mnazi Mmoja grounds, she raised challenging questions: “Why don’t these celebrations go to other regions in Tanzania, why can’t we celebrate Women’s Day in Mwanza or Mbeya, why do we have to do it always in Dar es Salaam? A good question which requires an honest answer, which I didn’t have any way. She believes that women in the villages are the ones who should be targeted, they are the ones who need all the awareness they can get.
“I really respect the objectives of this celebration, I am equally disappointed with some of the negative experiences rural women and girls encounter in their day to day life, which include assault and ill treatment,” she adds. Sophia says that she is certain that this year’s message will not go beyond Dar es Salaam.
“Majority of women who are violated, be it mentally or physically, are in villages, we have to share our knowledge with them, and they need to be informed about their rights,” International Women’s Day has been around since the early 1900′s, and it is an annual and global day to celebrate the economic, political and social achievements of women, past, present and future.
Unlike women in developed nations, women in the third world country experience prejudices that obstruct them from the education they need to advance and become successful in life.
It’s true, women have come a long way, and now women can ask for loans to start or develop their own businesses. They are paving to high positions in the boardrooms and in the so-called male dominated professions. Furaha Kadege is a locomotive driver, and she has been doing this job for 16 years and she is not slowing down.
Furaha who took her training in Zambia’s Mpika Training College, is proud of the woman she is today. “When I started, most men thought I would quit in a week’s time because of the work, but it's been sixteen years, and I am proud to celebrate women’s day and tell young girls that they can be whoever they want to be in life.” Furaha works for the Tanzania-Zambia Railway authority with two other female locomotive drivers. She says that she takes the time to reflect Women’s Day; it's the reflection that brings about new understandings about women and the future.
The Tanzania-Zambia Railway Workers' Union Vice-Chairman, Rose Banikwa, says to her Women’s Day is about bringing awareness to issues and challenges that women face everyday. Rose suggests that the government should set a policy that will direct companies to have a certain number of women in managerial position and train them towards such position. Leah Mrino, an entrepreneur, encourages girls to take education as their key to a better life and a bright future.
“It’s time young girls take their life more seriously, they should not settle for less, thinking that a man will provide for them… those days are over, girls need to know that education is the way out of unequal treatment and abusive relationships,” she adds. Leah however proposes that next year’s Women’s Day should be held in another region other than Dar es Salaam. Women must acknowledge that while measures may have been taken to generally impact positively on the lives of women and the girl-child in our country, there are a number of challenges which are still remaining.