Take five: A bigger push for better data on violence against women in Tanzania

Date: Wednesday, August 28, 2019

UN Women Representative for Tanzania, Hodan Addou. Photo: UN Women
UN Women Representative for Tanzania, Hodan Addou, Photo: UN Women

Tanzania recently hosted the Planning and Implementation of Prevalence Surveys on Violence Against Women Regional Workshop for Eastern and Southern Africa, organized by UN Women in close collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), and funded by the Department for International Development of the United Kingdom (DFID). In this interview, UN Women Representative for Tanzania, Hodan Addou explains why having reliable data and evidence is key to preventing and addressing violence against women.

Why is it important for Tanzania to generate comprehensive and reliable data on violence against women?

The prevalence of violence against women in Tanzania is high. The latest Demographic and Health Survey shows that 4 in every 10 women (aged 15 – 49) have experienced either physical or sexual violence in their lifetime. Spousal violence of sexual, physical and psychological nature is the most common form of violence among ever-married women.

Data is one of the key pillars of a comprehensive approach to the elimination of violence against women and girls as it provides evidence that can shape and inform laws, policies and national programmes.

What are some of the special considerations when it comes to collecting and working with violence against women data?

One of the objectives of the regional workshop was to strengthen knowledge and understanding on measuring violence against women through national prevalence surveys in line with existing globally agreed methodological and ethical standards.

If we are to obtain data that reflect the lived realities of women and girls, then we must go about gathering that data with a high degree of professionalism and with a women’s rights and survivor-centred approach, so that women and girls can trust us with their deeply personal information. The professionals working with violence against women data must observe globally agreed ethical considerations and standards, including confidentiality, to ensure that survivors are not put at risk of further violence.

Another fact that we should be mindful of is that when women open up and let us into their personal lives, they also expect us to provide information on how they can be supported. Therefore, gender equality and women’s empowerment should be at the core of any violence against women data collection endeavours.

Do you think Tanzania is significantly investing in the production of data to improve how the country responds to violence against women?

Tanzania is investing a lot on ending violence against women and showing strong political will, as evidenced by the participation of government leaders in events advocating for concerted efforts in this area. For instance, recently, Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa launched the 2017/2018 findings of the Household Budget Survey, which provided evidence that is going to further strengthen interventions on women’s empowerment and protection. Tanzania is also one of 12 countries participating in UN Women’s flagship programme on gender statistics, “Making Every Woman and Girl Count”.

To further improve the quality of data, the Government is working with partners to enhance its National Statistical System, while it continues to strengthen the implementation of the National Plan of Action to end Violence against Women and Children (2017-2021). Through its multi-sectoral approach, the National Plan of Action has successfully brought together civil society organizations and the private sector to collaborate on innovative solutions to prevent and respond to violence against women. Some of these innovations include the establishment of more than 10,000 women and children protection committees at local levels and setting up 417 Gender and Children’s Desks in police stations around the country.

UN Women has supported setting up 32 of these desks and trained 2,000 police officers on how to receive and process reported cases of violence against women. When police are better equipped to handle cases of violence against women and guide survivors towards the services that they need to recover, it encourages women to report such crimes.

How does the Making Every Woman and Girl Count programme work together with the Joint Programme by UN Women and the World Health Organization (WHO) on strengthening methodologies and national capacities for violence against women data?

The Global Joint Programme (UN Women and WHO) is part of the Making Every Woman and Girl Count Programme. The Joint programme will build on our current work in partnership with the Government of Tanzania. The needs assessment that informed the development of the programme identified a key gap in the production and use of quality data on violence against women. Through this programme, our interventions are focused on strengthening the institutional capacities and the policy framework for gender statistics in Tanzania. UN Women is supporting initiatives to ensure that gender is taken into account in national statistical planning; providing technical expertise to support increased production of gender data in areas where data does not exist or is not comparable; and also to increase data accessibility and utilization by different sectors.

Additionally, we are collaborating with the National Bureau of Statistics in the ongoing Social Institution and Gender Inequality Survey (SIGI), which will support development planners to address gender inequality in various sectors and importantly, support efforts aimed at removing and revising discriminatory laws practices that hinder the development of women and girls.

Our work in Tanzania is funded by a number of partners, including the Department for International Development of the United Kingdom (DFID), the Irish Aid, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) and others.

What was the main takeaways from the recent workshop on Planning and Implementation of Prevalence Surveys on Violence against Women?

The workshop brought together experts working on violence against women as well as gender and statistics from the United Nations agencies, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and the Ministries of Gender and National Statistics Offices from various countries in the Eastern and Southern Africa region. It facilitated learning and sharing of experience among the countries and triggered a shift on how we are going to be working in the area of violence against women data, going forward. This will also help the experts generate and utilize comparable data across the region.

The workshop generated a common understanding among the experts that it can no longer be business as usual in terms of production of data on violence against women in our region. Discussions were robust and experts embraced a new way of thinking and working, aimed at ensuring that policies and laws on violence against women is driven by quality and comprehensive data.

The workshop was a game-changer in how participants expressed how they are going to contribute toward efforts to end violence against women by improving data availability and quality and its use. UN Women in Tanzania is already gearing up to support the National Bureau of Statistics to conduct a stand-alone specialized survey on violence against women.