PRESIDENT Samia Suluhu Hassan has cited inclusion of women as among key tools for unlocking the economic potentials in Africa and the world at large.
The Head of State remarked this during the African Women Leader Network’s (AWLN) fourth Intergenerational Retreat of the Young Women Leaders held in Zanzibar, yesterday, indicating issues like safeguarding meaningful participation and equal rights coupled with resources for women and girls as key to make greater progress.
“We need to transform gender roles and power relations while breaking the barriers for women’s meaningful participation at all levels of leadership and decision making spheres…I am trying very hard to do that,” said President Samia.
She hinted that the times are gone when women were left at home to handle only things in the home, noting that remarkable progress was recorded in the country including witnessing women being voted and making decisions for the country.
She noted that the number of women making decisions in the various countries is almost half in many African countries, citing an example of female Members of Parliament in Tanzania who have increased from 21 per cent in 2005 to 37 per cent in 2022.
She said the number of judges of the High Court and Court of Appeal has also scaled up to 47 per cent as well as primary and district courts from 34 per cent in 2005 to 39 per cent in 2022).
Besides, the number of female envoys has risen from three per cent in 2005 to 21 per cent in 2022, whereby the number of regional commissioners has increased from 10 to 23 per cent this year and District Commissioners from 19 to 25 per cent.
“The numbers speak for themselves and indicate that we can no longer overlook the critical role women play in the economies…women have proven to be capable,” stressed the President.
According to her, women have continued facing historic disadvantages including limited access to resources, structural discrimination, restricted rights, limited, thus becoming highly vulnerable and marginalised.
As such, child care and house duties have remained a woman’s duty becoming burdensome especially now that the world is experiencing overlapping crises such as deteriorating global climate change, Covid-19 pandemic, food and energy insecurities undermining development in Africa.
As Tanzania is championing the Generation Equality Action Coalition on Economic Justice and Rights, she expressed commitment to ensure young women are supported in the efforts to spur development in the continent.
“The Generation Equality forum commitments are essential in attaining gender equality and economic empowerment of women.
“Gender equality and empowerment of women are priorities to gender responsive public and private social services including investing in community, early childhood development to help women be more productive,” indicated the President.
She outlined some of the initiatives to support the endeavour including promoting decent work for women both in the formal and informal economy, noting that on Friday this week the directive was issued on minimum wage for domestic workers, hospitality industries, agriculture and manufacturing sector.
The country has also established 3,098 women empowerment platforms at village and regional level as an important part to attain the aspiration, hinting that the goal was to establish a national level platform.
“As women account for 70 per cent of dealers in informal cross border trade in Africa it is my wish to see women well positioned to tap into regional export destinations and use the markets as a stepping stone to oversea markets. We have already started doing it but need to expand to make it a larger business.
“The African free trade area has created a market of 1.3 billion people across Africa, accounting for a combined gross domestic product of 3.4 trillion US dollars,” she said.
According to the World Bank (WB), the successful implementation of the AfCTA has a potential of lifting up the 30 million Africans out of extreme poverty and increasing the incomes of 68 million Africans who live under 5.5 dollars a day, the majority of whom are women and youth.
“It’s my hope that women will benefit from this huge market…young women are not only the future, they are the present, holding the key to practical solutions and driving progress.”
She called upon member states, multilateral and bilateral institutions to redouble efforts and provide substantial support to the network to attain its goals.