Generation Equality Midpoint Moment — Spotlight on Tanzania

Carol Ndosi
8 min readSep 7, 2023

WHAT IS THE GENERATION EQUALITY FORUM?

‘The Generation Equality Forum took place in Mexico City in March and in Paris from 30 June — 2 July 2021. The Forum launched a 5-year action journey to achieve irreversible progress towards gender equality, founded on a series of concrete, ambitious and transformative actions, including $40 Billion in financial commitments.’-

Last week I received an invitation to attend the midpoint review meeting on Generation Equality commitments to be held in Newyork this mid September. As one of the commitment makers (technology and innovation for gender equality through our organisation LP Digital www.lpdigital.or.tz), I was brutally reminded to reflect on how far we have come and was very keen to take a deep dive on the progress we have made in all areas as a country and what we can look forward from the midpoint review. It is important to also note that the President of the United Republic of Tanzania, Dr. Samia Suluhu Hassan is leading the action coalition for Economic Justice and Rights, which gives us CSOs in Tanzania all the more reason to really get involved and follow through with results as it is a national agenda.

As the world realigns itself to push for gender equality, Tanzania stands out, particularly in its efforts towards economic justice and rights for women. Coupled with the burgeoning digital economy, Tanzania provides an intriguing case study on how technology can be harnessed to champion economic justice and rights for women.

Commitments of Generation Equality: A Focus on Economic Justice

At the heart of the Generation Equality initiative is the commitment to Economic Justice and Rights, which aims to:

  1. Reshape Labor Markets: Prioritize women’s access to opportunities and ensure they receive fair wages, recognition, and protection.
  2. Support Women Entrepreneurs: Create conducive environments for women to thrive in business, from micro-enterprises to larger corporations.
  3. Provide Financial Literacy and Access: Enable women to understand and navigate financial systems while ensuring they have equal access to resources.

I am confident that Tanzania has made significant progress in these areas and certainly working towards more.

Care Economy

Reflecting on the ‘increase women’s economic empowerment by transforming the care economy’ action as one of the commitments, one can only hope and plan for a holistic approach.

Unpaid care work, often carried out by women, is a cornerstone of household and community well-being in Tanzania, as in many parts of the world. However, it remains unrecognized, undervalued, and often pushes women into economic vulnerability. To address this issue comprehensively in the Tanzanian context, a multi-pronged approach is essential.

Investing in Gender-Responsive Public and Private Care Services: Tanzania could significantly benefit from scaling investments in public and private care services. By establishing child care centers, elderly care facilities, and services for people with disabilities, the government can directly reduce the burden of unpaid care work. With more women entering the formal job market in Tanzania, especially in urban centers like Dar es Salaam, there’s a growing need for quality care services. Prioritizing this will not only support women in the workforce but also create avenues for quality, paid care jobs.

Legal and Policy Reforms: Tanzania’s legal framework must be revisited to incorporate the recognition and protection of care workers. This entails:

  • Guaranteeing minimum wages for care workers.
  • Ensuring safe working conditions.
  • Implementing policies that prevent discrimination and exploitation within the care industry.

Creating Up To 80 Million Decent Care Jobs: Given Tanzania’s growing population and shifting demographic dynamics, there’s a substantial opportunity to formalize care work. Creating 80 million decent care jobs could radically transform Tanzania’s employment landscape. This number might sound ambitious, but with the right policies and investment, it is achievable over time. These jobs would not only cater to the urban population but also the rural areas, where the bulk of unpaid care work happens.

Recognizing, Reducing, and Redistributing Unpaid Care Work; The first step is acknowledgment: recognizing that unpaid care work is work and it has significant economic value.

Community sensitization programs and national campaigns can raise awareness about the importance and value of care work. Secondly, by providing infrastructure like clean water and efficient cooking methods, the time women spend on chores can be significantly reduced. Thirdly, redistributing unpaid care work means actively promoting shared responsibilities within households — challenging traditional gender roles and ensuring men play an active role in care responsibilities.

Rewarding and Representing Care Workers — Beyond just remuneration, care workers must be rewarded through societal respect, proper working conditions, and opportunities for career advancement. They should also have representation in decision-making processes, especially in matters directly affecting their profession.

Guaranteeing Labor Rights for Care Workers — Ensuring that care workers have the same labor rights as those in other sectors is crucial. This includes the right to organize, access to social protections, and safeguards against exploitation and abuse.

Expanding Decent Work in Tanzania’s Formal and Informal Economies:

Over the years, Tanzania has showcased a proactive approach to expanding decent work opportunities across its formal and informal sectors. A critical commitment, underpinned by the vision to drastically reduce the number of working women in poverty by 2026, has resulted in tangible policy shifts and on-ground initiatives. For instance, the Tanzanian government launched the loans facilities at municipal councils from which women groups benefitted but could only access them if they were organized and formalized.

Furthermore, recognizing the plight of female street vendors in urban centers, the “Machinga” sheds initiative in cities like Dar es Salaam provides dedicated spaces, ensuring safer and more structured environments for their trade. Such spaces also open doors for better regulation, financial inclusion, and the provision of social services.

Additionally, women-led cooperatives and associations such as the Tanzania Women Chamber of Commerce have received support in the form of training and resources, ensuring their activities are sustainable and profitable.

By continuously engaging women in policy formulation, feedback mechanisms, and execution of these programs, Tanzania is not just creating policies but ensuring they cater to the nuanced challenges women face. This proactive stance on decent work is more than a policy direction; it represents Tanzania’s commitment to economic inclusivity, gender equity, and sustainable growth.

On Increasing Women’s Access to Productive Resources in Tanzania as an action commitment; Tanzania, in its journey toward equitable development, has ardently recognized the crucial role women play in its socio-economic landscape. Reflecting this understanding, the nation has committed to strengthening women’s access to and control over productive resources, setting ambitious goals to be achieved by 2026.

Access to Land- Land, being a pivotal asset in Tanzania’s predominantly agrarian economy, has been a focal area of reform. The Land Act and the Village Land Act, both promulgated in 1999, advocate for gender-neutral rights to land access, use, and ownership. However, traditional customs sometimes act as impediments. To combat this, the government has rolled out awareness campaigns emphasizing women’s rights to land. Additionally, there’s been a drive to encourage women’s participation in land adjudication committees and village land councils, ensuring their representation in decision-making processes.

Gender-Responsive Financial Products and Services — Tanzanian financial institutions, with support from the government and international partners, have been introducing tailored financial products targeting women. These include simplified account opening procedures, lower transaction fees, and micro-credit facilities. Notable initiatives, such as the Women’s Access to Financial Services Program, aim to boost financial literacy among women, facilitating better utilization of these tailored services.

Boosting Women-Owned Firms — Tanzania’s commitment to increasing the number of firms owned by women by 2026 has seen multi-faceted efforts. The government, in collaboration with NGOs, has been conducting training and skill development programs to nurture women entrepreneurs. There’s also been a significant push to link women-owned businesses with larger markets, both domestic and international. The Tanzania Women Chamber of Commerce, for instance, plays an instrumental role in advocating for the interests of women entrepreneurs, offering them networking opportunities, market linkages, and capacity-building programs.

Agricultural Transformation and Women’s Economic Justice in Tanzania;

In Tanzania, where a substantial portion of the population relies on agriculture, the sector’s transformation can serve as a linchpin for advancing economic justice and rights for women. As the backbone of the Tanzanian economy, agriculture has historically seen women at the forefront, albeit often in lower-paying, labor-intensive roles with limited access to resources and decision-making. A shift towards modernized, sustainable, and inclusive agricultural practices can rectify these imbalances.

By prioritizing women in agricultural training programs, they can transition from subsistence farming to more profitable, value-added ventures. Land reforms that prioritize women’s ownership rights can provide them with tangible assets and decision-making power, fostering economic autonomy. Introducing gender-responsive financial services tailored for agricultural investments can ensure that women farmers get the capital they need.

Moreover, by facilitating women’s access to bigger markets and integrating them into supply chains, we not only boost their income potential but also recognize and validate their pivotal role in the nation’s food security. In essence, the transformation of Tanzania’s agricultural sector offers a golden opportunity to uplift its women, positioning them not just as workers but as empowered stakeholders shaping the future of Tanzanian agriculture.

Tanzania’s dedication to expanding women’s access to productive resources is evident in the policy shifts, grassroots initiatives, and collaborative efforts with the private sector and civil society. While challenges persist, the trajectory indicates a promising shift towards a more inclusive economic landscape by 2026.

The digital revolution and how it can advance women’s economic justice and rights:

Additionally on Financial Inclusion and promoting gender transformative economies, one cannot ignore the emerging opportunities that come with the Digital Economy and how it can be a Game-Changer for Women.

The digital revolution has significantly influenced Tanzania’s trajectory in economic justice for women:

  1. Mobile Money: Platforms like M-Pesa have revolutionized financial access in Tanzania. With women often facing hurdles in traditional banking due to issues like documentation or travel constraints, mobile money offers an accessible alternative.
  2. Digital Literacy: Initiatives like the Digital Tanzania Program aim to boost digital literacy, especially among women. This not only allows women to participate actively in the digital economy but also provides avenues for online businesses and e-commerce.
  3. Online Marketplaces: Digital platforms enable Tanzanian women artisans, farmers, and entrepreneurs to reach a global audience, bypassing traditional intermediaries and ensuring better profit margins. iSOKO under the Tanzania Women Chamber of Commerce and other platforms being developed are providing women with linkages to markets which is crucial specifically now as we head toward implementation of the Africa Free Continental Trade Agreement- AfCFTA.
  4. Women in Tech: As Tanzania’s tech ecosystem grows as demonstrated at the Women and Technology Conference held in March 2023, there’s a concerted push to have more women in tech roles, leading innovations, and offering solutions tailored to women’s unique challenges. There are more programs supporting women with tech/digital skills as well as a rise of women innovators and startups designing more digital solutions for women.

Challenges and The Road Ahead;

While Tanzania’s strides in intertwining economic justice for women with the digital economy are commendable, challenges persist. Digital divides, especially in rural areas, limited infrastructure, and persisting socio-cultural norms that restrict women’s economic activities are obstacles that need addressing.

However, with continued commitment from the government and President Samia Suluhu Hassan’s pledge and commitment to advance women’s development, the private sector, and civil society, coupled with the guiding framework of the Generation Equality initiative, Tanzania is well on its way to setting a gold standard for how nations can leverage the digital economy for women’s economic justice and rights.

#GenerationEquality #WomensRights #GenderEquality #SDGs

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Carol Ndosi

🇹🇿 |Development Advocate|#GlobalGoalsTZ Champion|Feminist|MWF ‘16|Social & Biz Entrepreneur @MaMaendeleo @nyamachomafest @bongofesttz @thelaunchpadtz