Coverage: UN Women Executive Director in Tanzania
During her first official visit to Tanzania from 20 – 24 August, UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka meets women leaders, entrepreneurs, police officers and parliamentarians working to end gender-based violence and promote women’s leadership. At the Gender and News Summit in Dar es Salaam, the Executive Director urged media practitioners to challenge gender stereotypes by telling the untold stories of women and girls who are contributing towards the development of their communities and country.
Date: Thursday, August 23, 2018
Making marketplaces safe for women in Tanzania
Swaths of vibrant fabric, household goods and food line the narrow rows of Dar es Salaam’s Mchikichini market. Families peruse the stalls, doing their weekly shopping. Bustling centres of business and community, the markets of Dar es Salaam have a troubling side as well: 40 per cent of women traders in the markets have faced some form of harassment.
“At first, when I started to run my business in the market, no one would help you when you’re facing gender-based violence. Women would sell their food and not get paid, they were abused by men and everyone was quiet,” Betty Mtewele, a market vendor and Chair of the National Women’s Association for Informal Market Traders, told UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka during her visit to the market, one of many stops during her first official visit to Tanzania, from 20-24 August.
To make the markets in Dar es Salaam free from gender-based discrimination that prevented women traders from reaching their economic potential, the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women, managed by UN Women, funded the local organization Equality for Growth to run a programme. Since 2015, over 5,600 women market traders have participated in awareness sessions on the prevention of sexual harassment, domestic and economic violence. Over 600 women have received support and legal advice from market paralegals.
“Things changed after the Equality for Growth project,” said Betty Mtewele. “They provided education to us on how to fight against gender-based violence. We are now aware of measures that can be taken to prevent and end gender-based violence against women. We have formed Women Unions in the market and we also have our own leadership committee.” Each committee now has access to information and step-by-step guidelines on how to report and monitor incidents of gender-based violence.
While the UN Trust Fund project has ended, the partnership between Equality for Growth and UN Women will extend services and training to women in to two other regions, Dodoma and Shinyanga. The partnership will support a “Safe Space-Safe City Programme” in Ilala and Temeke markets and promote better collaboration between law enforcement officials, market committees and municipal leaders.
“I am very moved to see you fighting for your own freedom, for your own empowerment, to manage your own money, to stop violence and to stand for office and become Councilors and Chairpersons in the markets,” said Executive Director Mlambo-Ngcuka, adding: “This is the way it's supposed to be. When women work together, they can solve together their shared problems. I am also touched to hear each of you today expressed concern about the other, and you want this initiative to go beyond, because you don’t want this just for yourself, you want it for your sisters”.
During her three-day visit to Tanzania, UN Women Executive Director met with government officials and dignitaries, including the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Augustine Mahiga, women parliamentarians, women’s rights organizations and youth groups, among others. She also attended the Gender and News Summit organized by UN Women in Dar es Salaam from 22 to 24 August.
Gender and News Summit, Dar es Salaam
The Gender and News Summit convened media and gender experts across the country to share gender-aware media practices in the coverage of the Sustainable Development Goals and propose ways in which the media can champion the SDGs and contribute towards enhancing gender equality in and through media and Information Communication Technologies (ICTs).
At the National Assembly, women parliamentarians shared with the Executive Director how, in partnership with UN Women, they have been able to work on solutions across party lines. The collaboration with UN Women has also helped in building the capacity of new women parliamentarians. A number of male Members of the Parliament in attendance committed to engage more men as gender equality champions under UN Women’s HeForShe campaign.
The Executive Director emphasized the power of women caucuses around the world in advancing legislatives agendas and called for action to eliminate the discriminatory laws that still remain.
Tanzania Police Female Network
On 21 August, the Executive Director met with members of the Tanzania Police Force, including Maria John Nzuki, Deputy Police Commissioner and Chief of the Gender and Child Protection Section at the Sitakishari police station.
In 2014, UN Women partnered with the Gender and Children Desks to improve the quality of services provided. At the Sitakishari station, survivors of gender-based violence and violence against children are received, interviewed and assisted in a gender-responsive, professional and gender-sensitive manner.
While the Gender and Children Desk tackles criminal cases, when the officers receive civil cases, they refer the victims to appropriate services.
“In this desk we take criminal cases, civil cases are not part of our mandate. But we don’t leave the victims alone,” explained Faidah Suleiman, Superintendent of Police, Gender and Children Desk. “We listen to them, we refer them to the right person and we call them. Sometimes we escort them to the right place and follow up on how far those cases are going.”
She thanked UN Women for the support and shared with the Executive Director that, “the services started under a tree, then we moved to a small room and then to this space.”
As of 2018, there are 417 Gender and Children Desks nation-wide. Collectively, they received 31,020 reported cases of violence against women in 2017, compared to only 7,700 reported cases in 2011. Increased reporting of violence against women through the Desks has also led to increased convictions of perpetrators.
However successful, the Shitakishari Gender and Children Desk still faces challenges to provide quality services to survivors, including better facilities, transportation of survivors to referral mechanisms, and capacity enhancement opportunities for staff.
The call for increased support for ending violence against women in Tanzania was echoed by the Executive Director during the visit: “The work that you are doing here, protecting and supporting women and children who are victims of violence, is one of the most important work of our security and protection services," she said. "I congratulate you and I thank you for investing in this work, for taking the training, for establishing the centres, for having a connection and relationship with those who are survivors of gender-based violence”.
The Executive Director also met with over 100 women activists who are part of the Tanzania Gender Networking Programme, a recognized player in the progressive women and civil society movement in the country which aims to influence national and sectorial policies, planning and budgetary processes.