On fifth 5th November, Tanzanians celebrated one year of the new government, popularly known as the 5th presidential phase .The Women Coalition for Constitution, Elections and leadership, thought this an opportune time to come together and reflect and give an assessment of the situation of women in this one year when it comes to women participation in the leadership sphere, the constitution process, and to what extent the new government has incorporated women 11 agenda adopted during the Constitution process, a move that made women come together as one.
The 2015 election has left a landmark in both the history of our country and when it comes to women leadership and participation in the political arena. Contestants for the presidency carried the women agenda as their banner. This was the first time Tanzania witnessed a woman standing to contest for the presidency, a good indication of the wind for change in leadership and hope for change to all women, but more to women rights organizations who continue to lead the way… The main question was “Has the fifth phase president adhered to promises he gave during the campaign?” The current assessment provided the coalition with an opportunity to measure promises against realities on the ground and deliberate on how to move forward.
Appointment of a woman to the post of Vice president, and later a woman deputy speaker raised high expectations in the women rights agenda. Similarly, there were more women contestants at all levels.
After the 2015 elections, the constitution process seems to have come to a halt. However, the coalition continues to hold fast to their 11 agendas that were adopted and continues to raise their voices and protect the agenda. Between March 2016 and November, the coalition has organized different forums to articulate on the situation. The Coalition has used its three forums to inform each other on what is happening, reflect on the current events, review their activities, approach and draw up new plans and strategies for the future They used this forum to contemplate over what needs to be done as a preparation for the next election, more on how to increase the number of women participation.
The general feeling is that the picture is gray, as the expectations that came with election campaigns is shrinking each time new appointments are made, favoring men. A press Release given by the coalition on the same day is a clear testimony of that gray zone. More specifically, out of 19 Ministers, there are only 4 women, there are 5 deputy ministers out of 18 and out of 29 permanent secretaries there are only 3 women. Similarly out of 26 Regional commissioners there are only 5 women the picture might diminish women hope of equal opportunities but does not affect the struggle. Instead, it should be taken as a challenge, hence new strategies on how to arrive at their objective of equal share in representation, leadership, and in decision-making positions.
Today there are is women representation both in parliament and in leadership at all levels. At this particular forum, participant’s voices were raised with bitterness women less participation and the silence when it comes to the new constitution. Though not central to the current meeting, discussions on the new constitution took a significant time. This poses a big question as to why the number of women representation in the political arena keeps shrinking.
That women form 53% of voters in this country is an opportunity. Where are the gaps and how do we rectify the situation, is there still room for women rights organization. Having identified the gaps , the next step is to come up with an action plan to rectify the situation at this early stage, as a preparation for the next elections (2020).
This was the first National Forum since 2015 elections to articulate on the progress. In participation were 83 members representing 12 regions. One would be right to term this forum, reflections, and assessment of one year’s progress on women rights issues. Where are women in the leadership sphere, representation in the parliament and how does the future look like?
The meeting is a continuation of women forums to review and inform each other on what progress, what challenges, and have a collective voice on what way forward.
To set pace for the discussions a participatory approach was used. The number of participants was an added advantage, as it gave every member an equal opportunity to share their one year happening, what views they carry. Presenters from four coalition members were brief when sharing their one year’s experiences from their organizations. Themes covered included; women and leadership, gender violence, sextortion and the constitution.
There were leading presentations to open the discussion. It was organized in such a way that presenters were given less than ten minutes so as to allow more time to hear stories from participants. Each participant was given equal chance to speak realizing that each contribution no matter had a significant contribution to the movement and its future
This was a post-election assessment, that gave women from 12 regions, an opportunity coalition came together Women rights agenda a winning card for the elections” The coalition made sure their agenda as presented in the 11 agenda are clearly known to those contesting for different positions. Booklet Ilani ya Uchaguzi ya Mtandao wa Wanawake na katiba na Uchaguzi”was distributed to contestants, where the background to the formation of the Coalition was also presented