Tanzania – Gender Equality Should Be At a Heart of the New Constitution

After intensive lobbying by civil society organisations, gender equality is finally climbing the agenda in Tanzania’s constitutional review process and gender activists remain hopeful that the country will finally have a constitution with the power to transform the lives and protect the rights of the country’s women.

At the opening of the SADC Gender Protocol@Work Summit that kicked off yesterday at the New Africa Hotel in Daresalam, Former Pan African Parliament President, Gertrude Mongela in her opening address, urged government to mainstream gender issues in the new constitution. “2014 is a critical year for the women in Tanzania and as such

constitutional assembly members should put gender on the agenda,” said Mongele.

Mongela also criticised the proposed constitution draft for not clearly adressing the issue of 50/50 representation in all decision making bodies as stated in the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development of which Tanzania is a signitory.

Speaking at the same function, Constitution Assembly Member and Coordinator for Tanzania Women Cross-Party Platform (T-CWP), Dr Ave Maria Semakafu, concurred with Mongela adding that the concept of balanced gender representation was misunderstood. “The proposed draft constitution only talks about 5050 representation in the parliament.

But, if the country is to attain gender parity, then we need to go outside parliament and look at ministerial appointments, permanent secretaries and other areas of decision making positions,” explained Semakafu.

The concurrent theme for the summit is also the post-2015 agenda. Gender Links, the SADC Gender Protocol Alliance are calling for a stronger agenda that will ensure gender equality in all spheres of society. Many international organisations have also been campaigning for a standalone goal on gender equality and women’s empowerment for the post-2015 Millennium Development framework. This should not only include a target to increase female representation at all levels of decision-making, but also an indicator that measures women’s experiences of discrimination. Similarly, women’s groups must be part of the process when it comes to reporting on how things have actually changed in Tanzania, the region and the globe.

The decision as to whether or not Tanzania adopts the revised constitution under review will be determined by a referendum later this year. In the meantime, civil society remains hopeful that these important next steps will help to create a more equal environment for women in Tanzania, one that will give greater voice to women and help all women to realise their basic rights

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