Reports and Policies

Economic Empowerment of Women and Poverty Eradication

In Tanzania about 60 percent of women in Tanzania live in absolute poverty. This is a result of the increasing poverty among the rural and urban population generally, the growing gap between the rich and poor; women and men; and among women themselves.

In the rural sector and the poor urban suburbs, women carry a heavier burden because by tradition, women lack property rights and they also lack adequate knowledge on existing credit facilities. Due to their low education level, their knowledge and skills on how to manage their work is generally low. Most of women also depend on poor technology, which consume their time and energy.

To overcome this situation, the United Republic of Tanzania committed itself to enhance women’s economic capacity through making credit facilities available to a majority of women. Building and supporting women entrepreneurial skill, improving their management capabilities, increase training and access to technology.

NGOs for credit to women have increased since the 4th World Women Conference in Beijing. A number of NGOs and donor agencies have made serious efforts to advance credit to women at the village level. Women have been trained on credit management in general. These efforts have increased participation of women in income generation projects.

On constraint is lack of financial resources for monitoring utilisation of funds. The other constraint is the large number of the credit needy groups which the available funds, cannot suffice. What still has to be done is to strengthen NGOs so that they are able to provide credit to more beneficiaries and also to find ways that NGOs can be self-sustaining.

The Government has advised and urged private financial institutions to give credit to women. More opportunities have been provided for entrepreneurial skills training and in simple technology such as food processing and textiles. Most of the beneficiaries of the credit funds are urban based and the credit processing is cumbersome.

The Government will put extra effort so that more women can take part in productive economic activities by way of credit facilitation. It will for example work harder to encourage private financiers to give credit to women by acting as one of their guarantors. The Government will also intensify efforts to look for markets for women’s produce. Moreover, the Government in collaboration with NGOs is embarking on gender mainstreaming the planning and budgetary process in all sectors.

The Government will intensify efforts to encourage women to participate in International Trade Fairs so that a wider audience sees their products. The number of women participating in International Trade Fairs have been increasing from 100 in 1996 to 200 in 1999 and the quality of their products has improved. Efforts to mobilise women to participate in International Trade Fair have been done by the Government and NGOs dealing with poverty alleviation and businesswomen association.

However, the Government and NGOs still need to conduct training on production of quality products and marketing skills; sensitise women on involvement of women in International Trade Fairs; open showrooms for agricultural produce and manufacturing products at all levels. The Government needs to conduct studies on investment opportunities for women and what the obstacles to credit are; promote the establishment of a women’s bank that will give women investors the required priority in credit. The Government need as well to educate women on available credit facilities; encourage more women to participate in savings schemes; encourage urban women entrepreneur to invest in rural poverty alleviation programmes and; prepare and disseminate credit information for women in the informal sector

To implement the Beijing platform for Action the Government worked also at identification of women entrepreneurs for training in skills for entrepreneurial and business management skills in the informal sector. The Government aimed at training 20 percent of women entrepreneurs each year. The number of women entrepreneurs trained has been increasing but has not reached the planned 20 percent. One of the constraints is the lack of data on the number of women involved in this scheme, making it hard to gauge the impact of Government’s efforts. However, the Government still needs to increase its efforts to train more entrepreneurial women to reach the 20 percent goal it had set. The Government needs to embark on research so as to get data on the number of women who are trained and assess the impact this has had on their skills.

Since income generating activities increase women’s work, individual and private institutions are encouraged to develop and promote appropriate and affordable technology, that will ease the women’s work load particularly those directed at making domestic and farm labour less strenuous.

The Government has used several strategies to improve the economic empowerment of women. The first strategy was to make access and equitable control of means of production possible for women. The Government therefore revised the National Land Policy of 1995 and enacted the Land Law Act of 1999 as well as the Village Act of 1999. This has enabled women to own clan and family land on equal rights with men. The Government working with NGOs and international donor agencies have made a step to educating men and women on the importance of women owning land and other means of production. The role of women and their contributions at the family and community levels in the development process have been emphasised. The other constraint still to be addressed is educating the society about these changes and how women can benefit from these changes.

The major constraint lies in the traditional norms and culture. It is hard to change attitudes in the society. The main thrust is to embark on gender sensitisation to influence change attitude of the society.

The Government plans to conduct research with the view to identify NGOs and strengthen their management and outreach capacities.

There has been technical support in agriculture. The Government has called for and encouraged donors to support research on the use of natural and traditional pesticides. Women are now more involved in the fish and bee keeping business, both increasing access to natural resources.

The constraint is the traditional beliefs that women cannot carry commercial activities. Efforts still need to be intensified so that women have better access to natural resources. It is important that the public be gender sensitised on resources mobilisation, ownership and management so as to eradicate poverty.