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SDG 5: Tanzania battles for gender equality after victory against child marriage

In Tanzania, men are more likely to be employed in formal sectors including government service than women. The country has a big gender gap in terms of monthly income between men and women.

Subhro Prakash GhoshSubhro Prakash Ghosh | Updated: 14-03-2020 02:48 IST | Created: 14-03-2020 02:48 IST
SDG 5: Tanzania battles for gender equality after victory against child marriage
In agriculture in Tanzania, women’s monthly income is almost half in comparison to men. Subsistence farming is a source of livelihood for more than 80 percent women, although only 27 percent own land. Image Credit: Flickr / USAID in Africa

It is said that the world average of women top executives is 8 percent with Thailand leading the position (having the highest proportion of female CEOs over the planet). The rate of women at the top in Tanzania make up 8 percent of the country's CEOs. It may take some more years for the east African country to keep women in high-level management positions equally during the global peak hours when employers and organizations are trying to crush the deeply-rooted patriarchal traditions.

Employment and salaries lower for women than men

Females in Tanzania form a larger share of the working age population. Women account for 52 percent of the working age population (15 years and over), but labour force participation rate is higher among males (89.4 percent) than among females (84.2 percent). The gender gap in labour force participation increases with rising education level. Among women, the unemployment rates are higher than those of men in all areas, particularly in the capital Dar es Salaam. Albeit unemployment is comparable among men and women, the difference is higher in rural areas compared to urban areas as the majority of women there are unemployed.

In Tanzania, men are more likely to be employed in formal sectors including government service than women. The country has a big gender gap in terms of monthly income between men and women. Even in agriculture, women's monthly income is almost half in comparison to men. Subsistence farming is a source of livelihood for more than 80 percent women, although only 27 percent own land. Unfortunately, women still face discrimination in the labour market in terms of wages, promotions and legal protections followed by confronting harassment in the workplace.

According to the Tanzania Human Rights Report 2017 (by the US Department of State), women have the same status as men under labour law on the mainland. The report states that gender-based discrimination in terms of wages, promotions, and legal protections in employment continues to occur in the private sector (based on the Trade Union Congress of Tanzania). The report also states that women often are employed for low pay and in hazardous jobs, and they report high levels of bullying, threats and sexual harassment.

Petition at Parliament for men to pay 'salary' to their wives

Maybe as a consequential outcome of this kind of reasons, the Regional Commissioner of Tanzania's Dar es Salaam city, Paul Makonda has recently announced his intention to petition at the Parliament to introduce a bill. He does not want women to be frustrated due to lack of money.

Paul Makonda is set to petition at the Parliament for introducing a bill that seeks to have 40 percent of men's monthly salary deducted and credited to their wives' bank accounts. According to the local media, he made the pledge of giving justice to the women in Kinondoni, Dar es Salaam during the International Women's Day celebration.

"I will petition the National Assembly to introduce a law that will see 40 percent of salaries of men in formal employment deducted and credited to the bank accounts of their spouses who are housewives," he said.

According to him, there is a requirement for stringent law that compel men to accept that their wives would be the sole custodians of their property if they (men) die before their spouses. The 38-year-old Regional Commissioner is set to resolve the problems of widows camping at his office seeking intervention after losing their rights upon demise of their husbands. For good measure, he has already introduced a hotline toll-free number, which he said, 'depressed' women could use to seek assistance from his office.

Plight of single mothers likely to be partially solved

The Regional Commissioner has also suggested single mothers to avoid instilling the sense of hostility in their children's minds on their deadbeat fathers. He said this would stop deceitful married men from sexually preying on unsuspecting single women. "You will find a single mum talking so negatively about her deadbeat ex-partner. One thing that woman should know is that the child wasn't there when she and her partner first met," he said.

"It is therefore wise to face your struggles alone, and don't involve the children. Your toxic talk could have a near-permanent impact on the children, especially your girls who shun getting into heterosexual relationships because – based on what their mothers told them – they (girls) might think that all men are heartbreakers," the Regional Commissioner, who is well-known for giving efforts to empower women, opined.

Single mothers in rural Tanzania confront typical struggles due to lack of education and awareness. They are not aware properly of their rights and values as human beings. Many women believe that once they become pregnant and their men abandon them, they lose their dignity totally. The situation is worse in some communities where women are stigmatized for being single mothers. However, under the guidance of NGOs, the single mothers thrive to become entrepreneurs so that they are able to take care of their children.

Government's active roles

The government of Tanzania has adopted multiple policies that advance gender equality and youth inclusion in a supportive enabling milieu. One of these is the recent victory against child marriage by making alteration in the marriage act that had been a real cause of celebration for country's boys and girls. Last year, the high court ruled the previous provisions unconstitutional and raised the minimum age of marriage to be 18 years. Still there are many things need to be done at the government level to ensure women are not deceived, exploited and spend their lives in poverty.

The rate of secondary school enrolment in Tanzania is as low as 31 percent, whereas girls' percentage is even lower. An estimated 5.1 million children aged 7 to 17 don't attend school. The percentage for girls enrolment is lower mainly due to physical transportation to and from school. World Bank's data shows less than one-third of all girls in the country are graduate. The government jointly needs to work with national and international bodies, NGOs, social workers etc. to promote empowerment of all women and girls and make secondary education mandatory for all girls. The duty of the government is to ensure that the country is able to achieve the United Nations-set Sustainable Development Goal 5 (SDG 5 – achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls) by 2030.

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed are the personal views of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of Devdiscourse and Devdiscourse does not claim any responsibility for the same.)

Also Read: SDG 3: Dealing with a high rate of maternal deaths in Nigeria

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