A Distant Dream? Exploring the Impact of Women Rights on Tanzania's Development

Master's Thesis 2016 46 Pages

Gender Studies



List of Abbreviations




Research Questions

Specific objectives


Literature review

Research methodology

Results and findings


Conclusion and Recommendations


Appendix: Questionnaire

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Map of Tanzania[1]


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Gender inequality and structural poverty grip Tanzania, a country situated in the Sub Saharan Africa. The UNDP report 2015 notes that, Tanzania ranks 125 out of 155 countries in the Gender Inequality Index with a rating of 0.547. This reality has marred the progress of women, resultantly having a negative impact on the countrys development. This study critically examines this inequality and how that has had a regressive effect on Tanzanias development.

In this quest, a review of international, regional and local pieces of legislation on women rights will therefore be necessary. This will help in establishing the legal instruments that Tanzania is signatory to, and how far she has gone in implementing them, and whether she has taken any aggressive measures to translate theory into practice in promoting and safeguarding women rights. It is this researchers hope that data gathered will reveal how women play a crucial role in a countrys development hence deserving to be given equal opportunities as their male counterparts. The research will apply a human rights based approach methodology critically reviewing secondary sources as well as the use of questionnaires and a focus group discussion.

Keywords: Women, human rights, inequality, Africa, development, and Tanzania

To deny any person their human rights is to challenge their very humanity ( Nelson Mandela, 1990)


At the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit 2015, the world leaders adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development[2]. Enshrined within this agenda was a set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) all aimed at ending poverty, fighting inequality and injustice, and tackling climate change by 2030. Of particular interest to this paper is goal number 5; to achieve gender equality and empower women and girls. Basically this goal details how relevant the treatment of women and their incorporation thereof in the national agenda could propel development profoundly. Thus it mandates states to commit themselves to ending discrimination and gender-based violence; ensuring access to sexual and reproductive health care services and education for all; providing education that promotes gender equality and human rights; expanding womens economic opportunities and recognizing their rights to resources.

Further, it worthily notes that, ending all forms of discrimination against women and girls is not only a basic human right, but it also has a multiplier effect across all other development areas. This idea is also articulated in the Convention on Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women of 1979 which will be delved into in the next chapters.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals replaced the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which had not been fully implemented within the set period. Womens rights, particularly in Sub Saharan Africa where Tanzania is located are given little if no attention at all due to structural foundations of inequalities, traditions, cultures and norms that perpetuate the massive violation of their rights. Infringement of womens rights in Tanzania is one of the biggest impediments to national growth, as women are silenced and excluded. Thus, Sustainable Development Goal 5 must be implemented, if Tanzania has to develop.

The UNDP (2015) found out that, Tanzania ranks 125 out of 155 countries in the Gender Inequality Index with a rating of 0.547. Root causes for gender inequalities include historical and structural power imbalances between women and men and pervasive gender stereotypes (UNDP, 2012). Some of the main challenges for gender equality in Tanzania are inequitable access to and ownership of land and resources, the low participation of women at all levels of decision making, gender based violence and women exclusion from the economy. These issues are augmented by the impacts of HIV/AIDS and high levels of income poverty among women. The main gender disparities are in retention and performance of girls.

For example, the pass rate for girls in the Primary School Leaving Examination was 48 per cent in 2010 compared to 59 per cent for boys (UNDP 2012). Though gender parity is nearly achieved at a primary level, the gap grows significantly at the secondary level of education (Stein, 2014). Moreover, early pregnancies and marriages continue to contribute significantly to school dropout among girls in both rural and urban areas (UNDP, 2012).

The Tanzanian law in regards to female victims of violence is much of theory than practice. The Human Rights Watch (2010) notes that, in 1998, Tanzania passed a Sexual Offences Special Provisions Act, which adopted more targeted penalties for crimes including rape, attempted rape, and statutory rape. Within this Act, rape is a crime punishable of not less than thirty years with corporal punishment, and with fine, and in addition, one shall be ordered to pay compensation of amount determined by the court, to the person in respect of whom the offence was committed for the injuries caused to such person (Revised Sexual Provision Act, 1998 section 131). Despite the fact that the law calls for strict sanction and also a stern warning from his excellency Hon. Magufuli on rape suspects and convicts, the Tanzania police report 2016 recorded an increase of rape cases countrywide from 180 to 1,765 incidents between January and March as compared to 1,585 cases in the same period of last year (The Citizen, 2016-04-26). The Tanzania Media Women Association (TAMWA) reveals that, at least 62 cases of rape and sodomy in Dar es Salaam region were not concluded in 2014/15 due to lack of evidence and corrupt practices among police officers and medics. In addition, in the three months(January to March of 2016), 823 rape suspects had been arrested and brought to court, but many cases "failed to reach conclusion" as parents involved hid the suspects and chose to settle the matter outside the court (Xinhua News, 2016-04-26).

Within the international legal mechanisms, among others, the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights and the UN Convention on Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women, CEDAW, all highlight the protection and freedom within which women in all spheres of their lives should be guaranteed, which is yet to be actualized in Tanzanias case.

Given the above, I intend through this paper to unravel the situation in Tanzania with regards to womens rights, and how this affects the countrys development. The paper is divided into four chapters that is, the introduction, literature review, methodology, and findings, conclusions and recommendations.


Human development Index HDI is a summary measure of average achievement in key dimensions of human development: a long and healthy life, being knowledgeable and have a decent standard of living (UNDP, 1990).

Development: In this paper, development will encompass all aspects of wellbeing to health status, to economic and to political freedom. According to Amartya Sens book 1999, development means expansion of peoples capabilities. Basically, people are both the means and the end of development. Therefore the purpose of development is to enrich human lives, not richness of economy which is only a part of it.

Developments have indicators, when talking about development we can directly refer to development in education, health, science and technology, housing, economics, democracy, environment control as well as cultural development, (National Strategies for Economic and Poverty Eluviations, 2011).

The gender inequality index GII measures gender inequalities in three important aspects of human development reproductive health, measured by maternal mortality ratio and adolescent birth rates; empowerment, measured by proportion of parliamentary seats occupied by females and proportion of adult females and males aged 25 years and older with at least some secondary education; and economic status, expressed as labor market participation and measured by labor force participation rate of female and male populations aged 15 years and older (UNDP, 2010).

Human Rights Based Approach: According to the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) (2005), a human rights-based approach is a conceptual framework for the process of human development that is normatively based on international human rights standards and operationally directed to promoting and protecting human rights. It seeks to analyze inequalities which lie at the heart of development problems and redress discriminatory practices and unjust distributions of power that impede development progress.

Under a human rights-based approach, the plans, policies and processes of development are anchored in a system of rights and corresponding obligations established by international law. This helps to promote the sustainability of development work, empowering people themselves - especially the most marginalized - to participate in policy formulation and hold accountable those who have a duty to act (OHCHR, 2005).

Duty bearers: Duty bearers are those actors who have a particular obligation or responsibility to respect, promote and realize human rights and to abstain from human rights violations. The term is most commonly used to refer to State actors, but non State actors can also be considered duty bearers. Depending on the context, individuals (e.g. parents), local organizations, private companies, aid donors and international institutions can also be duty bearers (UNICEF, 2015).

Rights holders: Rights holders are individuals or social groups that have particular entitlements in relation to specific duty bearers. In general terms, all human beings are rights holders under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In particular contexts, there are often specific social groups whose human rights are not fully realized, respected or protected. More often than not, these groups for example tend to include women/girls, ethnic minorities, indigenous peoples, migrants and youth (UNICEF, 2015).

A human rights based approach does not only recognize that the entitlements of rights holders needs to be respected, protected and fulfilled, but it also considers rights holders as active agents in the realization of human rights and development both directly and through organizations representing their interests.

As the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom (Universal Declaration of human rights, 1948), the question would remain as to why women rarely are involved in development, highly discriminated and especially in Africa, Tanzania?

The paper refers to different number of books, policy documents, journal articles, newspapers, and websites of relevant and profound researchers and practitioners in the field of development, and human rights to unearth the above hypothesis.

Research Questions

1. Which is the impact (positive or negative) of women rights on Tanzanias development?

What could be the factors preventing women involvement in Tanzanias development?

Which local and international legislations is Tanzania signatory to (those in favor of women)? And what are the capacity gaps in the implementation of these legislations?

Specific Objective

1. To unravel effects of women exclusion from Tanzanias development,
2. To untwine factors that have marginalized women, and;
3. To examine the measures duty bearers have and are taking to ensure women are involved in her development as well as the capacity gaps in their implementation.

Study Limitations

1. Time factor: Time was not enough for me to fully conduct the research since I was to undertake the internship and at the same time conduct research. This was hard especially in distributing and getting back the questionnaires. Most of the questionnaires were not returned. (100 questionnaires were distributed but only 51 returned).
2. Language barrier: Tanzanians speak Kiswahili which I have difficult in. I had to find a translator to translate my questionnaires from English to Kiswahili.
3. Unexpected occurrence: One of the colleagues who was assisting me in distributing the questionnaires and connecting me to the locals suddenly lost his dad and had to travel back to his rural home. It was also the period I was less days to travel back to Kenya. This meant I could not trace the contacts of those who were given the questionnaires (I had no enough funds to stay longer).
4. Little Research on women and development. It is surprisingly that very little research has been done on women rights in Tanzania.


The literature review will encompass of major works conducted before related to women rights and development, right to development, and human rights based approach (specific work done in Tanzania on women public participation in decision making processes which is the hallmark to womens emancipation) and gender inequality.

Women, economic growth and development

A research conducted by the World Bank (2013) on Economic Development = Equal Rights for Women which examined the womens legal and economic rights in 100 countries over a 50-year period found out that, economic growth does not automatically lead to more equal rights for women, especially in middle- and high-income countries. Higher gross domestic product per capita generally is not associated with greater property rights or whether women can enter into legal agreements in their own name.[3]

By contrast, it argues that, if women hold at least a quarter of all political offices at the national level, a country is more likely to recognize married women as head of households and enact reforms to allow women to control assets. In this occurrence, it is also more likely that married women will no longer need their husbands permission to open bank accounts, sign contracts and initiate legal proceedings. The research analysis attested that, reforms help improve outcomes in womens employment, health, and education. It also found out that, improving gender equality had broad development impact, such as greater participation of women in the labor force, especially in the non-farm sector; it leads to higher wages for girls and women, higher school enrollment, and lower adolescent pregnancy, as well as lower maternal and infant mortality (World Bank, 2013).

In addition, the paper remarks that the pace of reform on womens legal equality has been, and continues to be, accelerating, but much more remains to do. As a result, women enjoy more equal economic rights. For example, more countries have dropped the requirement that wives obtain their husbands permission before signing legal contracts, and more countries support the joint titling of properties owned by both spouses. In this research, World Bank 2013 notes that, property rights for unmarried girls were generally granted earlier than for married women, indicating that men tend to be more supportive of their daughters rights over their wives at least initially (World Bank, 2013).

In Sub-Saharan Africa where Tanzania is located, still much has not been done in terms of the progress granting married women equal inheritance rights and head-of-household status. In addition, gender gaps are often caused by provisions in constitutions, making it difficult to change. The constitutions of several countries formally recognize customary and religious rules as prevailing on issues of property, marriage and inheritance and exempt those categories from non-discrimination principles (World Bank, 2013).

The research concluded that the presence of more female legislators contributed to closing the gap in womens economic and legal rights. They can also inspire womens broader participation in the political process, reinforcing the pressures for reform.

Some authors concur with the World Banks research in that, when women have greater voice and participation in public administration, public resources are more likely to be allocated towards investments. Yet this is also a time of opportunity. There are many examples around the world of alternative development pathways that move towards sustainability with gender equality. Gender equality and sustainable development can reinforce each other in powerful ways (Agarwal, 2002; Buckingham-Hatfield, 2002; Cela, Dankelman and Stern, 2013; Johnsson-Latham, 2007). Ensuring womens access to and control over agricultural assets and productive resources is important for achieving food security and sustainable livelihoods (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations -FAO, 2011). According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), women grow between 60 and 80 per cent of the food in developing countries, yet own less than 2 per cent of the land. This vast disparity is the last frontier in discussions of contemporary agrarian grass-roots politics and one that seems tailor-made for the food sovereignty solution that includes women as protagonists in changing food production schemes.

Womens knowledge, agency and collective action are central to finding, demonstrating and building more economically, socially and environmentally sustainable pathways to manage local landscapes; adapt to climate change; produce and access food; and secure sustainable water, sanitation and energy service. Further, certain aspects of gender equality, such as female education and womens share of employment, can have a positive impact on economic growth, although this impact is dependent on the nature of growth strategies, the structure of the economy, the sectorial composition of womens employment and labor market segregation, among other factors (Kabeer and Natali, 2013).

The most influential evidence on the importance of women to economic development is from a research used to support the World Banks Gender Mainstreaming Strategy launched in 2001(Dollar and Gatti 1999; Klasen 1999). This research highlighted that societies that discriminate by gender tend to experience less rapid economic growth and poverty reduction than societies that treat males and females more equally, and that social gender disparities produce economically inefficient outcomes (World Bank 2001a). For example, it is shown that if African countries had closed the gender gap in schooling between 1960 and 1992 as quickly as East Asia did, this would have produced close to a doubling of per capita income growth in the region (The World Bank Gender and Development Group, WBGDG 2003).

The primary pathways through which gender systems affect growth are by influencing the productivity of labor and the allocative efficiency of the economy (World Bank 2002). In terms of productivity, for example, if the access of women farmers to productive inputs and human capital were on a par with mens access, total agricultural output could increase by an estimated 6 to 20 percent (World Bank 2001b). In terms of allocative efficiency, while increases in household income are generally associated with reduced child mortality risks, the marginal impact is almost 20 times as large if the income is in the hands of the mother rather than the father (WBGDG 2003).

However, critics have argued that, this instrumentalist approach to engendering development, while bringing economic growth gains, will not fundamentally change the position and situation of women. It is important to note that while gender equality will help bring economic growth, economic growth will not necessarily bring gender equality. Advancing gender equality requires strengthening different dimensions of womens autonomy: economic and political autonomy, full citizenship and freedom from all forms of violence, and sexual and reproductive autonomy (Durán, 2010).

Doepke and Tertilt (2009) present a very interesting theoretical analysis regarding womens economic rights that relies on two key ingredients: inefficient investment in children and gender differences in preferences. They assume that the marriage market matches people purely at random and that children are public goods (Raquel, 2009). This necessarily leads to inefficiently low investment in children (in their case, in the form of human capital), as there is no "price" mechanism (i.e. no competition) that allows the marriage market to internalize the utility of the childs future spouse from higher investment. This is a standard result in the marriage literature. The twist comes from the assumption that women discount the welfare of their children less than men. This implies that if the return to time spent educating children is sufficiently high, men will be made better of allowing women to have a greater say in deciding a childs level of education as this goes some way towards remedying the inefficiency. The authors interpret this result as increasing the incentives that men had to grant women greater economic rights as this presumably would increase the latters bargaining power and thus their ability to influence household decisions. A possible objection, however, is that if this were the main reason to extend rights, it would have been easier and more advantageous for men to simply mandate a higher level of education for all (i.e., compulsory schooling, which in fact also happened over this time period).

The argument though raised in my paper does not rest on inefficiencies arising from marriage market, gender differences preferences, or labor production squarely, which is not to say that these factors did not play in the role of women rights on development. Instead it looks into those factors preventing women to emancipate themselves from exclusion in development, and bridge those gaps therein in a bid to respecting, protecting and fulfilling their rights.

A working paper by Fernández (2009) on women rights and development sought to shed light on the relationship between womens rights and development by focusing on a fundamental economic right: property rights. In this paper, property rights included the legal rights to acquire, own, sell and transfer property, collect and keep rents, keep ones wages, make contracts, bring lawsuits, and, if seeking divorce, maintain some of the marriage assets and keep control and guardianship of the children. The paper developed a dynamic model to analyze how capital accumulation, fertility, and the existence of legal traditions with different consequences for womens welfare, affect male preferences towards married womens property rights. The main intuition delivered by the model was that, wealth accumulation or falling fertility alters the relative benefits of a patriarchal system relative to one in which women have property rights.

Under the patriarchal regime, both factors improve the welfare of sons more than the welfare of daughters. At some critical level of fertility or capital, the disparity in the welfare of daughters versus sons implies that a father would be made better of sacrificing the consumption benefits he obtains from being selfish with his wife in order to ensure that his sons-in-laws are forced to be generous towards his daughters. This critical level comes sooner in regimes that are less beneficial to women(e.g., those that follow English common law relative to community property law), as their daughters fare less well there, exacerbating the need for reform.

The implications of the model were studied empirically using variation across US states in the timing of reforms to their systems of property rights. A robust negative correlation was demonstrated between survival-fertility and reform. The presence of a community property law was also shown to lead to earlier reform than English common law. The non-monotonic relationship between per-capita wealth and reform, however, was not present, leading to the conclusion that heterogeneity and knowledge of the political-economy mechanism for aggregating preferences may be critical.

The study could be replicated for other countries, particularly in the context of contemporary developing countries which in this case it was not. The model also hinted at why womens welfare may not have increased in line with economic growth. In particular, some historians have speculated that women may have been better off when the economy was poorer than they were in the mid-19th century (both in the US and in England). From the studys theoretical analysis of male regime preferences and growth, when the economy has low wealth, men do not have much to gain from patriarchy. It is only as capital accumulation takes on that male preferences strongly favor patriarchy. This preference is later reversed once the economy reaches a critical level of wealth. From the model and empirical work of this paper, the lessons for countries in which women have yet to obtain full property rights suggest that policies that reduce fertility may also help improve womens economic position. It should be noted, however, that whether this conclusion still holds in the presence of technologies that not only allow fertility reduction but also sex selection is unknown and thus any policy implications should be drawn cautiously (Fernández, 2009).

A report by Revenga & Shetty (2012) from the International Monetary Fund on Empowering women is smart economics contends that, though there has been a significant increase from both rich and developing countries of more girls going to school, living longer, getting better jobs, and acquiring legal rights and protection, there still remains a significant gender gap. Women and girls are more likely to die, relative to men and boys, in many low and middle income countries than their counterparts in rich countries. Women earn less and are less economically productive than men almost everywhere across the world. And women have less opportunity to shape their lives and make decisions than do men. According to the World Banks 2012 World Development Report: Gender Equality and Development, closing these gender gaps matters for development and policymaking. It attests that, greater gender equality can enhance economic productivity, improve development outcomes for the next generation, and make institutions and policies more representative. Many gender disparities remain even as countries develop, which calls for sustained and focused public action. Corrective policies can yield substantial development payoffs if they focus on persistent gender inequalities that matter most for welfare. To be effective, these measures must target the root causes of inequality without ignoring the domestic political economy (Revenga & Shetty, 2012). The report further notes that, as for rights and voice of women, almost every country in the world has ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. Yet, in many countries, women (especially poor women) have less say than men when it comes to decisions and resources in their house-holds. Women are also much more likely to suffer domestic violence in developing and rich countries. And in all countries, rich and poor alike, fewer women participate in formal politics, especially at higher levels.

According to a World Survey carried out by the UN Women (2014), linking gender equality and sustainable development is important for several reasons. First, it is a moral and ethical imperative: achieving gender equality and realizing human rights, dignity and capabilities of diverse groups of women is a central requirement of a just and sustainable world. Second, it is critical to redress the disproportionate impact of economic, social and environmental shocks and stresses on women and girls, which undermine the enjoyment of their human rights and their vital roles in sustaining their families and communities. Third, and most significantly, it is important to build up womens agency and capabilities to create better synergies between gender equality and sustainable development outcomes. This World Survey articulates what sustainable development with gender equality could mean for policies, programmes and decision-making at all levels in the current global juncture. In doing so it reflects on the early twenty-first century global context, when entrenched poverty and hunger, rising inequalities, ecosystem destruction and climate change, all of which are consequences, in large part, of prevailing economic models and paradigms, pose unprecedented challenges for the realization of womens rights and risk undermining further the sustainability of their households, communities and societies. Dominant development patterns have both entrenched gender inequalities and proved unsustainable as regards many issues covered in the World Survey, including economic growth and work; population and reproduction; food and agriculture; and water, sanitation and energy.

Yet the overall message of the World Survey is one of hope in the possibilities of constructing, through vigorous democratic deliberation that involves states, women and men, civil society organizations, the private sector and global institutions, alternative development trajectories within which gender equality and sustainability can powerfully reinforce each other. International norms and standards on womens and girls rights and gender equality provide a solid basis for advancing action to strengthen the vital role of women in achieving sustainable development. Discrimination on the basis of sex is prohibited under all major international human rights instruments. The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women obligates States parties to take all appropriate measures to ensure the full development and advancement of women. International Labor Organization (ILO) conventions have continuously enhanced womens rights to and at work, including, most recently, those of domestic workers (UN Women, 2014).

The right to development

Banda 2004 argues that, womens equal right to development has been called a universal good. However, the realization of their right to development is beset by challenges rooted in the inequalities that pervade their lives. For women, the right to development does not simply require consideration of how income poverty, understood as lack of money and resources, influences their ability to enjoy their human rights; human poverty, in the sense of womens lack of voice and participation in decision-making within their families and societies, also impacts upon their lives and further reinforces their powerlessness.

The women and development approach was introduced in the late 1970s and considered the economic activities performed by women both inside and outside the home as essential for the survival of the family unit and, as such, part of the development process. The women and development approach further argued that the failure to integrate women as economic actors in their societies contributed to sustaining existing international structures of inequality. It aimed at recognizing the concerns of women as occupying a separate, but overlapping, space with the concerns of development (Banda, 2004).

However, women and development was criticized for overlooking the major influence of the ideology of patriarchy and thus being insufficiently gendered. It was also criticized for its failure to engage with issues of dependency (of third world States and women) on international capital and the resultant inequalities. The lack of class as a category of analysis was also critiqued.

Adopted in 1986, the Declaration on the Right to Development is located within the women and development framework and has been criticized for reflecting an offhand, last-minute add women and stir approach. Criticisms of the Declaration centered around its failure to engage with the particularities of womens experiences of dispossession and dislocation in the prevailing development discourse. Women are expressly mentioned in article 8 (1): Effective measures should be undertaken to ensure that women have an active role in the development process (Banda, 2004).

The nature and scope of the effective measures that the state is required to undertake remain undefined. The Declaration presents the right to development as an umbrella right in which all other internationally recognized human rights are taken into account; moreover, it introduces two key elements in the process of development: popular participation and fair distribution of benefits. Article 2 (3) proclaims: States have the right and the duty to formulate appropriate national development policies that aim at the constant improvement of the well-being of the entire population and of all individuals, on the basis of their active, free and meaningful participation in development and in the fair distribution of the benefits resulting there from. Hence, the Declaration provides that development should be a broadly participatory right, one that requires the State to take special and effective measures to ensure the active role of women.

Similarly, fair and equal distribution of resources cannot be accomplished without female as well as male participation in the process (understood as popular participation earlier) here appears to be little engagement with the exclusion of women at both national and international levels from participating, or indeed in addressing the barriers to womens participation so eloquently analyzed during the United Nations Decade. The list of human rights violations in article 5 of the Declaration that States are required to address in order to facilitate development include all forms of racism and racial discrimination but, interestingly, not sexism or sex discrimination. While the Declaration is rooted in the international law definition of self-determination (State sovereignty), there appears to be no engagement with womens lack of self-determination over their own lives.

Based on the UNDP report built on Amartya Sens work on developing human capabilities. On the one hand, human development is understood as both the process and the culmination of enlarging peoples choices, achieved by increasing human functioning and the capabilities of people. The three capabilities considered essential for people are: (a) to lead a long and healthy life; (b) to be knowledgeable; and (c) to have access to the resources needed for a decent standard of living. Human development as such extends further to cover areas such as participation, security, sustainability and guaranteed human rights. The above-mentioned areas are deemed necessary for promoting creativity, productivity, self-respect, empowerment and a sense of belonging to a community.

Human Rights Based Approach

On the other hand, a human rights-based approach is a conceptual framework for the process of human development, based on international human rights standards and directed towards respecting, protecting and fulfilling human rights. Furthermore, it aims to analyze inequalities underlying development as well as to redress discriminatory practices and unjust distributions of power that impede development (Banda, 2004).

As described by Green & Randolph (2010), the human rights-based approach seeks to operationalize two key concepts: first, that the goals identified and pursued by national and international development processes should be shaped by, and congruent with, international human rights standards (including the full range of civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights); and second, that the methods used in pursuing development should equally accord with human rights standards, and in particular with cross-cutting norms around participation, accountability, transparency and access to information, and non-discrimination.[4]

Moreover, UNDP has clearly spelled out the centrality of equality to the human rights-based approach: The human rights-based approach has not managed to deliver the anticipated benefits for women. Many reasons have been put forward for this shortcoming, not least that the lack of conceptual clarity has left practitioners floundering.

There is a great deal of confusion within the United Nations system about what is precisely meant by gender, about how a gender perspective should be applied in different sectors and what its contribution should or could be. Kuovo (2013) notes that, in the United Nations, gender can be perceived simultaneously as a synonym for sex, as a synonym for women, as an issue with a men-centered focus, or can be isolated and fixed as a sex-related term which can be segregated from other social categories such as race, ethnicity, class, origin and sexual orientation, among others. While the right of women to live free of sex-based discrimination was one of the founding principles of the United Nations, it was recognized from the outset that a great deal of work would be required to make this a reality. However, little such work has in fact been done. This has been due in part to an inadequate practical engagement with plural legal systems and the impact of the widely accepted view in certain cultures that women are unable to participate in development on womens ability to participate in development. Proponents of the rights-based approach have called for participation and non-discrimination, yet have not to date developed a vision for, or engaged in the long term, arduous work of, challenging the gender-based stereotyping that is pervasive in all societies and that leads to the silencing of womens voices and perspectives.

Women in Tanzania: participation in public and political offices

Women as the right holders and the government as the duty bearer, it is imperative to unravel the level of engagement of these right holders in politics and decision making processes which is very key in expanding womens capabilities and freedom to public participation.

Political participation of both men and women is critical and seen as the heart that pumps the communitys life blood (Reid, 2000:3). Women political participation is thus significant for success and should be incorporated at all levels of decision making from the local to global level (Miranda, 2005:2).

Women in local governments

A paper produced for a conference on womens participation in politics in Tanzania and Malawi states that there is a larger gender disparity in womens representation in Local Government Councils than there is in womens representation in parliament. The data used in the paper dates back to 2000 and puts the proportion of women district councilors elected that year at 3 per cent (Tenthani et al, 2014, p. 5). However, Gender Links 2015 SADC Gender Protocol Barometer states that womens representation in local government stood at 34 per cent in 2015.

One empirical study based on fieldwork in Kondoa Local Authority, Dodoma region in Tanzania finds that womens participation in decentralized local governance is low (Misafi, 2014, p. 87). The study finds that womens participation is usually limited to physical presence. Moreover, it finds that participation is determined by incentives, access to information, power relations, knowledge of Kiswahili and womens interest in local governance (Misafi, 2014, p.87). The study concludes that womens participation in local governance has no impact on policy changes (Misafi, 2014, p. 87).

Another study based on fieldwork in northern Tanzania, finds that land ownership amongst Maasai women is related to power within their marital relationships. It is argued that this predicts individual agency, in turn resulting in increased womens participation in political meetings.

The paper contends that when women have access to structural resources they gain power in their marital relationships and this makes them more likely to become engaged in political participation and decision-making (Grabe, 2015, p. 1).The study aimed to provide evidence for the socio-psychological dimensions of womens political participation (Grabe, 2015, p. 8).[5]

Women in the public sector

There is very little recent literature on womens engagement in the public sector in Tanzania. The available literature generally consists of broader studies on gender, which look at women in the public sector as a sub-topic (Strachan Anna, 2015). South African NGO Gender Links 2014 SADC Gender Protocol Barometer notes that, there is limited data on womens representation in public services in the communitys member states (Gender Links, 2014, p. 91). Similarly, one study notes that while the Gender Unit of the Presidents Office in Tanzania collects and publishes gender disaggregated data to enable the number of women in decision-making positions in the public sector at the national, regional, and local levels to be monitored, data are not available on a consistent basis (Seppänen & Virtanen, 2008, p. 118) When breaking down the public sector into categories, there is even less data available. According to Gender Links there is no data available on the representation of women in the Tanzanian military (Gender Links, 2015, p. 277).

However, an earlier report by the same NGO does note that there are women in the Tanzanian armed forces, and that they are not discriminated against in the armed forces recruitment policy (Gender Links, 2014, p. 284). The report also notes that the Tanzania Police Reform Programme includes gender mainstreaming (Gender Links, 2014, p. 284).It finds that women make up 19 per cent of the police force (Gender Links, 2014, p. 286). The same figure is cited in the NGOs 2015 report, which also discusses the Tanzania Police Female Network (TPFNET). TPFNET mapped gender and childrens desks at police stations in Tanzania in 2012/2013. 417 such desks have been established, but their quality varies considerably (Gender Links, 2015, p. 287).It is not clear to what extent the desks are staffed by female police officers. The report does not provide figures for Tanzania on womens representation in the prison services, highlighting the lack of data available on womens representation in prison services in the majority of the SADCs member states (Gender Links, 2014, p. 288).

One study notes that women generally hold the lower positions in public services. It finds this to be true even in sectors which it describes as female dominated, such as healthcare. The study uses data from 1995, which shows that 7-15 per cent of doctors, dentists, and pharmacists were female, while 79-99 per cent of nurses, health attendants and maternal aides were female. It does not provide more recent statistics but notes that there has been little change in the situation at the time of writing (Seppänen & Virtanen, 2008, p. 121).

Similarly, another study notes that the majority of women in the public sector work as secretaries, nurses, midwives, telephone operators and teachers. It attributes this trend to womens low level of education (Ministry of Community Development, Gender and Children, 2012, p. 37).

One study finds that womens engagement in public education in Tanzania is greater than in other parts of the public sector. It notes that in 2006, 47 per cent of teaching staff (excluding higher education) were female.42 per cent of inspectors were female. In the administration of the education sector, 56 per cent of the staff were female (Seppänen & Virtanen, 2008, p. 135).

Efforts in womens political participation have also been made. For example, in 2005, the 14th Amendment to the Constitution increased the number of seats reserved for female Members of Parliament from 15 to 30 percent. After the 2005 general elections, 98 of a total of 321 MPs were women (30.4%). According to South African NGO Gender Links 2015 SADC Gender Protocol Barometer, womens representation in the Tanzanian cabinet is 34 per cent. It notes that, womens representation in the cabinet has increased at a faster rate in Tanzania than in any other SADC member state (Gender Links, 2015, p. 92).

A 2008 empirical study undertaken for the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the links between gender, corruption and poverty in Nicaragua and Tanzania describes the way in which special seats are allocated. Special seats are assigned on the basis of the number of votes a party wins in the parliamentary elections (Seppänen & Virtanen, 2008, p. 120). Parties have their own internal systems for allocating these special seats. This report argues that the selection methods used by parties lack transparency and introduce the potential for corruption, including sexual corruption (Seppänen & Virtanen, 2008, p. 121). The report argues that this undermines the integrity of female candidates. They also note that the process for selecting female representatives for special seats complicates women MPs accountability to the female constituency, as their loyalty lies primarily with their party (Seppänen & Virtanen, 2008, p. 121).

Yoons 2011 study, which is based on fieldwork in the Dodoma region, finds that the proportion of female MPs contributions in parliamentary debates has increased significantly because of the increase in womens representation (Yoon, 2011, p. 88). It finds that better representation has also led to better articulation of womens issues, and to improved interactions between male and female MPs (Yoon, 2011, p. 88).

Other positive outcomes of the adoption of special seats for women are positive legislative changes for women. Examples include a law protecting female employees and a law protecting women from sexual offences (Yoon, 2011, p. 90). The study finds that the increase in the number of women in parliament has gradually changed negative attitudes towards women in politics (Yoon, 2011, p. 90). However, the same study also finds that there have been calls for the special seat system to be abolished in recent years. One reason cited for this is that they were supposed to be a temporary measure to increase the number of women in parliament, and have now served their purpose (Yoon, 2011, p. 90).

A second study by the same author notes that many special seat MPs have held their seats for more than two terms. This reduces opportunities for other women to gain political experience through the special seat system. The same study also notes that special seat MPs are often viewed as inferior to other MPs, as the former are not elected by the public. This means that many special seat MPs are keen to compete for constituency seats instead (Yoon, 2013, p. 147). In the 2010 elections, three special seat MPs won constituency seats (Yoon, 2013, p. 147).

One study argues that the special seat system has eroded the competitive power of women in the basic democratic system (Seppänen & Virtanen, 2008, p. 121)

Women in political parties

There is consensus in the literature on the lack of gender equality within political parties in Tanzania. A 2011 paper argues that Tanzanias electoral and political systems marginalize women in intra-party and inter-party competitions (Babeiya, 2011, p. 94). Another more recent qualitative paper states that no political party has achieved gender parity at the decision-making level (Tenthani, 2014, p. 6). One study suggests a number of reasons for male dominance in political parties. These include the way in which political parties are organized (for example: the existence of old boy networks and military type command systems), a lack of support for female party members from the party leadership, womens lack of political networks, gender-biased social and cultural norms, womens lack of political experience, and financial constraints (Seppänen & Virtanen, 2008,p. 121).

One report also mentions political parties lack of a gender agenda in the context of male dominance within them (Seppänen & Virtanen, 2008, p. 121). A report by International IDEA on political parties and gender in Africa shows that Tanzanian political parties constitutions and manifestos do include gender provisions, although these do not necessarily relate to the parties themselves. (International IDEA, 2014, p. 60).

A survey conducted by NBS et al., (2005) shows that, 38% of married women are reported to have their husbands making decisions on their behalf about healthcare, and nearly half have their husbands make all decisions regarding daily household purchases. In this regard, a great number of women are unable to visit a healthcare facility even its access for their children without seeking permission and money from their husbands.

Gender Inequality? Any effect of women exclusion in Tanzania?

According to a report by UNICEF Tanzania (2010) on Children and Women in Tanzania, the relative isolation of Tanzanian women as well as the low status of young women in particular are significant factors undermining the adoption of behaviors that can prevent disease, ensure fast treatment for children when they are sick, encourage breastfeeding and influence other childcare choices and decisions over where women give birth. The report further notes that, discrimination against women is further evident in the limited national response to issues of domestic and sexual violence, early pregnancy and child marriage, and the greater vulnerability of girls and women to HIV and AIDS.

Gender inequity also starkly underlies the failure to invest in obstetric care to reduce maternal mortality, which in turn severely compromises the life of newborns and helps explain the more limited progress in reducing neonatal mortality in recent years compared with infant and child mortality. 34% of Tanzanians live below the basic needs poverty line. The estimated number of Tanzanians in poverty increased from 11,388,000 people in 2000/01 to 12,870,000 in 2007. Poverty impacts harshly on children because of their dependence on adults and their low social status within the family. Children living in rural areas without access to basic services are particularly hard hit. The depth of poverty faced by children varies inversely with the level of education attained by the mother. It is therefore critical to invest in girls education (UNICEF, 2010).

According to a report by Plan International (2016), girls are effectively invisible to the government and policymakers over lack of timely data updates as well as incomplete findings. Jorgen Haldorsen the country director announced that there was no credible statistics worldwide that showed the real challenges of girls, such as how many dropped out of school due to early marriage, pregnancy or sexual violence (Plan International Tanzania, 2016).

There is no clear data to show how many girls become mothers under the age of 15. The truth is that millions of girls in Tanzania are vulnerable because their cases are either not documented or followed up to know what is happening to them. He cited a few cases where girls were abused in the country, including a 16 year old girl from Geita who was forced by her father to drop out of school. She moved away from home and ended up with pregnancy. Adolescent girls face social, economic, and political barriers, whereby every ten minutes somewhere in the world, an adolescent girl dies as a result of violence. Revealed Jorgen.

The United Nations Population Fund UNPF estimates that, in the next decade at least one million girls worldwide will be married below 18 years. It said that in Africa, 42 percent of girls are married at a tender age. The government acknowledged that child marriage is rampant in the country, occurring mostly to girls who are at least educated, poor, and those living in rural areas (Margaret Mussai from the Ministry for Health, Community Development, Gender, Children and the Elderly). Margaret added that, family poverty was among the factor contributing to the problem as parents seek to marry their daughters off to get wealth. Girls under 18 are not matured enough psychologically and physically to handle family matters or engage in reproductive responsibilities. Girls should be at school getting knowledge and life skills.

According to Mussai, 61 percent of women aged between 20 and 24 years are not educated while 39 percent of women in the country have primary education and they were married below 18. Mussai said that data from the National Bureau of Statistics NBS shows that Shinyanga region leads with the highest prevalence of early marriage by 59 percent, Tabora 58 percent, Mara 55, Dodoma 51 and Lindin 48. Other regions are Mbeya 45, Morogoro 42, Singida 42, Rukwa 40, Mwanza 37, Kagera 36, Mtwara 35, and Manyara 34. Coast region 33, Tanga 29, Arusha 27, Kilimanjaro 27, Kigoma 26, Dare e Salaam 19 and Iringa 8.

In conclusion, in 2015 after the general elections whereby His Excellency John Pombe Magufuli won the elections as the new Tanzania president, a positive outcome was obtained when he appointed a female to become the first woman vice president of the country. This is bringing hope to women in Tanzania and they hope in all decision making processes, they shall be included, and discrimination worked on in an effort to respecting women rights.


This chapter focuses on the research design used in this study. A research design is a plan and structure of investigation used to obtain answers to research questions (Kerlinger, 1986). Research design enables researchers to answer research questions as validly, objectively, accurately, and economically as possible. A research design guides the research in collecting, analyzing and interpreting observed facts. The research relied on secondary sources majorly, questionnaires, and a focus group discussion.

The paper deployed both qualitative and quantitative approaches. According to Creswell 1994, a qualitative research is a holistic approach that involves discovery. It is an unfolding model that occurs in a natural setting which enables the researcher to develop a level of detail from high involvement in the actual experiences. What constitutes qualitative research involves purposeful use for describing, explaining, and interpreting collected data. Leedy and Ormrod (2001) maintain that, a qualitative research is less structured in description because it formulates and builds new theories. On the other hand, quantitative research method involves a numeric or statistical approach to research design. According to Leedy and Ormrod (2001), quantitative research is specific in its surveying and experimentation, as it builds upon existing theories. The methodology of a quantitative research maintains the assumption of an empiricist paradigm (Creswell, 2003). The research itself is independent of the researcher. As a result, data is used to objectively measure reality. Quantitative research creates meaning through objectivity uncovered in the collected data.

Quantitative research can be used in response to relational questions of variables within the research. Quantitative researchers seek explanations and predictions that will generate to other persons and places. The intent is to establish, confirm, or validate relationships and to develop generalizations that contribute to theory (Leedy and Ormrod, 2001, p. 102). The findings from quantitative research can be predictive, explanatory, and confirming.

Methods and Tools of Data Collection

Data was collected through both primary and secondary sources. For primary sources, questionnaires, and a focus group discussion were deployed. For secondary sources, a thorough review of secondary materials and legislation on women rights and development were analyzed.

For Questionnaires, confidentiality was assured in that participants were asked not to write their names on the questionnaires and also their responses were to be treated confidentially. The questionnaires were handed out to participants in both urban and rural areas to capture the number of adults both men and women (above 18 years). The questionnaire was a combination of both closed and open ended questions. The participants consisted of both single and married individuals. The questionnaires were physically handed out and only a few emailed. The total number of questionnaires administered were 100, and only 51 of them returned.

Focus Group Discussion: This was used as a means of getting participants together in an homogenous group in which issues of women, barriers and leadership from both men and women could be discussed. According to the National Science Foundation (2002), focus groups normally combine both elements of interviewing and participant observation. It is just not a discussion group, problem solving session or a decision making group but rather an interview. The hallmark of focus groups is the explicit use of the group interaction to generate data and insights that would be unlikely to emerge otherwise. The technique inherently allows observation of group dynamics, discussion, and firsthand insights into the respondents behaviors, attitudes, language, etc (National Science Foundation, 2002). Focus groups normally consist of 8 to 12 people who share some characteristics relevant to the evaluation. In this study, the focus group was one consisting of 11 participants (3 females and 8 males). This was because, for questionnaires they were largely distributed to women thus a great need to hear from men as well.

Review of secondary sources: This was the main source of data. It was used to acquire more details on the work done before on women situation in Tanzania and what the duty bearers have undertaken to involve and protect women. Reviewing and making analysis of different relevant governmental documents (such as policies and strategies) was important to set the background information on women situation in Tanzania. Further, reviews of existing documents, surveys, reports and laws were made with a view of establishing the nature and forms of protection at different levels, formulating hypotheses and sharpening our understanding on protection in Africa and Tanzania in particular. The review of existing data also helped to identify the knowledge gap which this study is attempting to fill.


Human rights international framework

With the formation of the United Nations in 1945 whose mandate was to protect and promote peace, the United Nations Human Rights Commission drafted a human rights declaration known as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which was adopted by the United Nations in 1948. From its preamble and in Article 1, the declaration explicitly proclaims the inherent rights of all human beings: Disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people...All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights (United for Human Rights, 2015). This is a document that has been embraced by many nations as a contract between a government and its people throughout the world. The challenge however with this document is that, despite its astounding nature as the ideal standard held in common by nations around the world, it unfortunately bears no force of the law, in other terms, it has no legal obligation.

In 1976, the United Nations adopted two major documents: the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) which both became international law. These covenants proclaim the rights for all the people and they detest any form of discrimination. In addition to the covenants in the International Bill of Human Rights, the United Nations has adopted more than twenty principal treaties further elaborating human rights. Tanzania is a member of the United Nations and has signed and ratified both the international covenants as well as the CEDAW. Inspired by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, African states created their own Charter of Human and Peoples Rights (1981)(United for Human Rights,2015).

Unless nations are signatory to the International Covenants and other Conventions, then this Universal Declaration of Human Rights document is simply an attractive theory and therefore cannot serve as an obligatory for nations to adhere to human rights. According to National Commissions for UNESCO (2008),[6] Tanzania is a member of the United Nations signed and ratified various conventions including: International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights-ICCPR, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights-ICESCR, International Covenant on Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination-ICERD, Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women-CEDAW, Convention Against Torture-CAT, Convention on the Rights of Child-CRC, International Convention on the Rights of Migrants-ICRMW, Enforced Disappearance, and International Convention for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities-ICRPD. It is also a member of the African Union and a signatory to the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights. Tanzania has also ratified the declarations of the platform known as the Beijing Platform for Action- BPA that is geared towards achieving various goals among them being taking measures to ensure womens equal access to and full participation in decision making and leadership (BPA, 1995:8) as well as an end to gender based violence and discrimination. Tanzania has also signed the 2008 SADC protocol on gender and development with an aim of addressing gender equality and equity.

Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa

According to Banda (2004), the adoption in 2003 by the African Union of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa marked an important milestone in the recognition that womens right to development is central to their empowerment. It echoed the Declaration on the Right to Development in many respects, but differed significantly in one: its engagement with the specific ways in which women can participate in and benefit from development. Article 19 stipulates that women shall have the right to sustainable development, including the right to land and credit, and that States parties shall introduce the gender perspective in the national development planning procedures. Participation of women is a leitmotif of the Protocol, which requires States parties to take steps to ensure that women are involved in political decision-making processes, in the construction of cultural values, in the planning, management and preservation of the environment and, of course, in the conceptualization, decision-making, implementation and evaluation of development policies and programmes. Womens independent right to housing irrespective of marital status is guaranteed, as is the right to education (Banda, 2004).The Protocol calls on States to recognize the work that women do in the home and in the informal sector. It explicitly recognizes that women carry the heavier reproductive burden and thus guarantees them the right to seek contraception without requiring the consent of spouses, the right to abortion in a limited number of circumstances and, crucially, the right to be protected from HIV and to know the status of their partners within internationally recognized guidelines.

Of a particular interest is CEDAW, which when it was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1979, it was and still is meant for the protection of women against all forms of discrimination and sets up an agenda for national action to end such discrimination (UN Women, 2009). The Convention provides the basis for realizing equality between women and men through ensuring women's equal access to, and equal opportunities in political and public life -- including the right to vote and to stand for election -- as well as education, health and employment. States parties agree to take all appropriate measures, including legislation and temporary special measures, so that women can enjoy all their human rights and fundamental freedoms. The Convention is the only human rights treaty which affirms the reproductive rights of women and targets culture and tradition as influential forces shaping gender roles and family relations. It affirms women's rights to acquire, change or retain their nationality and the nationality of their children. States parties also agree to take appropriate measures against all forms of traffic in women and exploitation of women. Countries that have ratified or acceded to the Convention are legally bound to put its provisions into practice. They are also committed to submit national reports, at least every four years, on measures they have taken to comply with their treaty obligations (UN Women, 2009).

In addition to CEDAW, Tanzania has also ratified the CEDAW protocol in 2006 as well as the Maputo protocol in 2007. Despite all these international protection mechanisms for women, the Legal and Human Rights Center & Wiki gender (2015) notes that, many of their provisions continue to be violated in both law and practice. The Coalition of the Campaign under the Legal and Human Rights Center remains particularly concerned about the following violations in Tanzania: the persistence of discriminatory laws; violence against women; unequal access to education, employment and health services; and violations of the right to property. The Coalition of the Campaign acknowledges the adoption in recent years of a number of laws and policies aimed at improving respect for womens rights, including the reform of property laws to establish equal rights to acquire, own and use land (Village Lands Act No. 5) and the implementation of programmes to promote womens access to education (Education Sector Development Programme, 2000-2015).

With all these international legal instruments in place and Tanzania a signatory of those, the question would then arise as to why women are still excluded in her development?

According to the Human Rights Council (2008), in its resolution 8/4 it highlights the gendered impact of womens long term exclusion from education. It states that, of the 774 million adults lacking basic literacy skills, the majority 64 per cent were women. Education has been linked to a variety of basic goods; among these are access to better employment, the ability to participate in decision-making with some States requiring a minimum level of education for elected officials lower birth rates and healthier children who are more likely to receive an education themselves. The denial of an education to women and girls owing to sexual harassment, lack of sanitation facilities, obligation to undertake domestic chores and lack of access to funds is gender-based discrimination which hampers national development and needs urgent attention.

Despite the governments efforts in closing the gender gap in education, there is still disparity in retention of girls in schools. One third of women in Tanzania more than 4 million women in total are not literate. The net enrolment rate for girls at primary level is now an impressive 97%, slightly higher than that of boys. But the rate of transition to secondary school is extremely low: just 32% in 2008, compared to 40% for boys. The proportion of girls completing a full secondary education was a drastically low 0.8% in 2010 (Global Campaign for Education, 2012). Almost 1.2 million adolescent girls are out of school. The pattern is repeated for women in adult and non-formal education, with only 55% making it to mainstream schools.

Local legislation

When a person has a right, someone else (primarily the state, but also the International community has a duty to respect, protect and fulfill these rights. Understanding the actors and the relationship between rights holders and duty bearers is one of the most important issues in human rights (Right to education project, 2008). According to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights article 2:

1. Each State Party to the present Covenant undertakes to take steps, individually and through international assistance and co-operation, especially economic and technical, to the maximum of its available resources, with a view to achieving progressively the full realization of the rights recognized in the present Covenant by all appropriate means, including particularly the adoption of legislative measures.
2. The States Parties to the present Covenant undertake to guarantee that the rights enunciated in the present Covenant will be exercised without discrimination of any kind as to race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.
3. Developing countries, with due regard to human rights and their national economy, may determine to what extent they would guarantee the economic rights recognized in the present Covenant to non-nationals.

Tanzanian government is a signatory to the ICESCR, and has set some of the laws related to women rights (right holders) but unfortunately it is theoretical rather than practical.

According to Wikigender (2005) on Africa for Womens Rights: Tanzania, many discriminatory legislative provisions remain in force in Tanzania. Propositions for amendments to some of these laws, which would remove some discriminatory provisions, have met with strong resistance and reforms have stalled.

Examples of discriminatory legislation include:

Family laws : Under the Law of Marriage Act 1971, polygamy is authorized (s.10), whilst women are expressly prohibited from having more than one husband (s. 15). Proposed amendments to the Marriage Act would not remove these provisions. The legal minimum age for marriage is 15 years for girls and 18 years for boys (s. 13). A marriage contract can be concluded without the consent of the bride, on the basis of an agreement reached between the father of the bride and the groom (s.17). The Penal Code allows for the marriage of girls under 15, provided that the marriage is not consummated before the age of 15 (s.138). The Law of Persons Act allows for the payment of a bride price. Upon payment, the wife becomes the property of the husband and the husbands family (Wikigender, 2015).

Though the high court of Tanzania on July 08, 2016 passed a historic judgment declaring sections 13 and 17 of the Marriage Act, 1971 which allowed for a girl child to be married at the age of 14 and 15 unconstitutional, it is yet to be implemented. Sadly, an appeal has since been filled.

Property laws : Three systems of law apply to inheritance according to the Judicature and Application of Laws Act 1920:

Statutory law: the Indian Succession Act 1865 provides for one-third of the estate to pass to the widow and two-thirds to the children. If there are no children, then the widow is entitled to half of the estate (the other half passes to the deceaseds parents or other blood relatives).

Islamic law: provides for widows to receive one-eighth of the deceased husbands property if there are children and one-fourth if there are no children.

Customary law: under the Local Customary Law (Declaration No. 4) Order 1963, a widow cannot inherit property of the deceased husband. The government has stated its intention to review discriminatory laws that prevent women from inheriting property, but no amendments have yet been introduced.

Nationality laws : The Citizenship Act limits womens right to transfer their nationality to their children and foreign husbands (ss. 7(5), 10, 11).


According to Wikigender (2015), domestic violence and sexual violence are highly prevalent in Tanzania. Customs and traditional practices condone the harassment and abuse of women and a culture of impunity prevails. Cases of violence are underreported and those that are reported are often settled out of court. Existing laws do not adequately protect women from violence. The Penal Code does not contain a specific provision on domestic violence and does not criminalize marital rape. In 2001, the Tanzanian government adopted a National Plan of Action to Combat Violence against Women and Children (2001-2015), but the effective implementation of this plan has been hindered by inadequate funding and the lack of a comprehensive legal aid system that can be accessed by women. In 2008, the Government announced its intention to amend laws that perpetuate gender-based violence but no such reforms have been introduced.

Despite the adoption of the Sexual Offences Special Provisions Act (SOSPA) in 1998 which prohibits female genital mutilation (FGM) of girls under the age of 18 years, and the National Plan of Action to Combat FGM (2001- 2015), FGM continues to be practiced, in particular in the regions of Arusha, Dodoma, Kilimanjaro, Kigoma, Manyara, Mara and Morogoro. The continued legality of the practice upon women over 18 years of age is also of grave concern. In addition, the law does not provide for a minimum sentence, which has resulted in courts exercising their discretion to impose marginal sentences on offenders (Wikigender, 2015).

Obstacles to access to justice

Despite the good intentions of CEDAW and Tanzanias constitution, Tanzania has ignored such thing as equality between men and women. Many are unable to realize their right to own land and other property due to a lack of awareness of these laws and how to enforce them. This makes further sensitization of women about their land rights still very necessary (Mywage.org/Tanzania, 2016).

Under the Constitution of Tanzania, 1977, every person in Tanzania is entitled to own property. A persons right to own property is governed by the provisions of the Land Act and the Village Land Act. Both of these Acts reversed discriminatory customary practices that negatively affected the rights of women to land. These Acts recognized the equal entitlement of men and women to own property. The law has prohibited all forms of discrimination in ownership of property. A woman wanting to own property shall follow the same procedures that men follow in acquiring property and shall not be denied for reasons that she is a woman. Despite the presence of these progressive pieces of law, including the mother law (the constitution protecting womens rights in Tanzania) there is a big challenge that women are facing. Many are unable to realize their right to own land and other property due to a lack of awareness of these laws and how to enforce them. This makes further sensitization of women about their land rights still very necessary. Another barrier to female property rights is the presence of customary laws, practices, inheritance practices, traditions and norms that deny women rights to own property.


This study entailed the use of questionnaires, one focus group discussion, and a thorough exploration of secondary sources. The questionnaires and focus group discussion were carried out to explore on the perceptions and attitudes of people towards women in Tanzania, inequality in political, economic and social freedom (property, education, health etc), and factors marginalizing women. The questionnaires were largely distributed in Dar es Salaam region and the focus group discussion was carried out in Njombe region South of Tanzania.

The questionnaires were handed out to participants in both urban and rural areas to adults above 18 years both men and women. The questionnaire was a combination of both closed and open ended questions. The participants consisted of both single and married individuals above 18 years of age. The questionnaires were physically handed out and only a few emailed. The total number of questionnaires administered was 100, and only 51 of them returned.

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In this study, the focus group discussion consisted of 11 participants (3 females and 8 males). This was because, questionnaires were largely distributed to women thus a great need to hear from men as well.

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Review of secondary sources: This was the main source of data. It was used to acquire more details on the work done before on women situation in Tanzania and expand on my research. Reviewing and making analysis of different relevant governmental documents (such as policies and strategies) was important to set the background information on women rights provisioning. Further, reviews of existing documents, surveys, reports and laws were made with a view of establishing the nature and forms of social protection at different levels, formulating hypotheses and sharpening our understanding on social protection in Africa and Tanzania in particular. The review of existing data also helped to identify the knowledge gap which this study is attempting to fill.

Study Analysis and findings

From the questionnaires returned, 23 of the respondents were men and 28 women. Participants (both men and women) above 18 years old but below 50 years were 33 in number. The choice for 18 years and above in age was because in Tanzania, one is considered an adult when they reach the age of 18.

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In relation to whether women are treated equally as compared to men by the government and the society in terms of education, land ownership, access to medical facilities, political life, it was evident there is unequal treatment that women receive compared to men.


Unequal treatment 84.3%

Equal treatment 15.7%

Total 100%

The participants above 50 years were 18 in number. Those who believed and thought women were treated equally as men in Tanzania were a very small percentage of 15.7% while those who believed women were treated unequally with men were 84.3%.

The reasons raised for unequal treatment of women to men were: the perceptions that women do not know much especially their rights, culture which has been in favor of patriarchy for ages, women not allowed to air out their opinions, lack of confidence in women themselves, lack of knowledge that they should be treated equal, low education levels especially women in rural, and the fact that for many years women have not held leadership positions.

In terms of women land ownership in Tanzania:


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The responses were from both men and women. 33.3% of the respondents agreed that women do not own land while 27.5% disagreed. The reasons rising for women not owning land were: women are married off thus not given a chance to and those who are lucky enough to are those educated and earning high income. Some who are not educated but own land, have lands that are unproductive and also in small pieces.

Participants in this study highlighted poverty, culture, their husbands, local leaders, government and the society at large as the obstacles to women not able to perform profound roles in Tanzanias development. Coalition of the Campaign (2015) adds that, the land and property issues in Tanzania include:

Most women having an access to land through their spouses or male relatives but do not own on their own; Unmarried daughters, widows and divorced women often a subject of stigmatization, discrimination and harassment by their male relatives; Husbands using title deeds to secure loans without consulting their wives, causing evictions and/or loss of their properties; In matters of inheritance there has been unequal distribution of wealth between men and women where women are always considered second, and as customary marriages are not a subject of registration, women are disadvantaged in that upon divorce or death of their husband they find themselves losing almost everything.

Women indicated that, given a chance they would support the girl child and women in that: they would provide education, give equal rights to women as men, give women leadership positions, stop child marriage, create awareness on the existing opportunities, provide free health care and education, ban girls as house maids, and allow freedom of expression and expression of girls abilities.

Women in this study were also asked if they knew their rights and amazingly, 90% agreed they did but when asked if they practice them, only 5% admitted.


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The reasons for not practicing them were; husbands perceived to be the heads therefore no much say when married, and the norm system that has left them feeling vulnerable. For those accepted to practice them, they indicated that education to have played a big role in realization and application of their rights thus able to voice out.

In their research (Wiki gender and Coalition of the Campaign, 2015) they found out that women in Tanzania face various challenges in the realization of their rights which include: Dualism in the Land Tenure System; The fact that customary tenure operates alongside statutory tenure; Lack of knowledge about womens rights by women and the public at large; Male dominance in society; Stereotypes and negative attitudes against womens power, competence, potential, status etc, and Archaic traditions, customs and religious beliefs.

The participants felt that there were ways in which the Tanzanian government could take to involve women in her development such as: Education to girls, local leaders and the society at large to create awareness on the rights of women, startup capital and soft loans to be provided to women by the government, equality to be upheld, change the existing customary laws, women to trust themselves and vie for electoral positions, education specifically to women about their rights, and engaging women from the beginning in the development process that is, from decision making, to planning, to execution.

Focus group discussion

Njombe region specifically Ludewa district is the place where this discussion took place. Ludewa district is one of 6 the districts in the Njombe region of Tanzania. The residents here majorly dwell on subsistence farming, and livestock rearing. Along the coast of Lake Nyasa, there is also some traditional fishing. There is a small amount of artisanal mining of gold and gem quality green tourmaline.[7]

The focus group discussion was used as a means of getting participants together in a homogenous group in which issues of women, barriers and leadership from both men and women could be discussed. According to the National Science Foundation (2002), focus groups normally combine both elements of interviewing and participant observation. It is just not a discussion group, problem solving session or a decision making group but rather an interview. The hallmark of focus groups is the explicit use of the group interaction to generate data and insights that would be unlikely to emerge otherwise. The technique inherently allows observation of group dynamics, discussion, and firsthand insights into the respondents behaviors, attitudes, language, etc (National Science Foundation, 2002).

During the interviews, I allowed participants to freely air out their perceptions and attitudes about women.

Question: Why are women not equally represented in decision making processes as men especially in political and economic spheres?

Men in this discussion stated that, men are believed to be superior and masculine than women; women do not possess strong voice to defend themselves as well as little education as compared to men. When this question was raised, two of the women could not respond (they appeared scared).

Question: Do you think the government has taken enough measures to stop discrimination against women in Tanzania? If yes, how? If no, why?


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6 of the men in this discussion agreed nonexistence of gender discrimination in that, in parliament they stated to be special seats for women, equal opportunities between men and women in education and career life adding that there are almost equal number of girls in schools same as boys. None of the women agreed to no gender discrimination. 2 of the men and 3 of the women agreed existence of gender discrimination voicing out that, gender discrimination is reported every day in Tanzania, in land ownership which prevents them from commercial farming, legal system that is yet to change in their favor on land ownership as well as in local governments where the number of women is really low. They added that, implementation of laws that the government has set in favor for women is yet to take effect.

Notably, all the men (8) did agree that women need to show up for leadership by coordinating with the government, government ought to bring education closer to women, loan provisions, to be allowed in parliament to debate women rights, and creation of awareness as to what should be done for women to be involved in Tanzanias development. The participants surprisingly men stated that, girl child and women need education, provision of basic needs, help in securing jobs, freedom and capability to choose, women self-esteem, awareness creation, and government follow up in the implementation of the funds set aside for women as what they would do if they were to be given a chance to be the duty bearers.

This research indeed found out that women are far off from development yet. Women felt that if they are involved, they can ensure their fellow women and girls get quality education that could help them in curbing maternal deaths, help the society understand women rights and the need to protect, respect and fulfill them, and also acting as bread winners for their families equally as their counterparts men. Despite Tanzanias signatory of the many legislations, there remains gaps in their implementation due to little funds set aside for that effect, one sided policy formulation meaning it is not inclusive during the process, and corruption involved in the implementation.


It is apparent from this paper that, it is still a distant dream for women rights realization in Tanzania. There is little data about girls in school and those below 18 years who are married off (many girls are out of school due to early pregnancies, early marriages and sexual abuse), little data on women in public sector engagement thus hardly off to meet womens needs, and to involve them

in Tanzanias decision making processes. It is evident that, men still make decisions on behalf of the women especially on health, and education which is a setback to full emancipation of women and advancement of their capabilities. In addition, the human rights based approach emphasizes the need to respect, protect and fulfill human rights in a nondiscrimination manner, which is still a dream far off to be fulfilled. This is because, despite Tanzanias signatory to various legal instruments, they are yet to set workable plans and fully implement them.

It is clear from this paper that the root causes for gender inequalities are historical and structural power imbalances between women and men, traditions, cultures, fear of men bore by patriarchy and norms that perpetuate the massive violation of their rights.

An educated woman, who has freedom to choose the life to live, who has an access to opportunities to explore their capabilities, who knows and practices her rights is largely missing in Tanzania. Their input would be a profound felt impact. Women involvement will mean that women will enjoy their rights fully, they will become part and parcel of the decision making and public participation giving them an opportunity to air out their needs and the need to have them met. When women have access to structural resources they gain power in their marital relationships and this makes them more likely to become engaged in political participation and decision-making.

Tanzanias development could be sustainable if everybody could be involved with right holders claiming and holding their duty bearers accountable. Though capacity gaps still remain in the full implementation of the legislations, Tanzanians have greater hopes with the newly elected president His Excellency John Magufuli who has portrayed a firm stand in the fight against any form of discrimination and corruption that has marginalized women for long.

This research recommends full revision of all the discriminatory laws, full participation of women in social, economic and political spheres, education to every Tanzanian on women rights, free education till secondary level which will allow not only enrollment of girls but also retention, reduction in early pregnancies and marriages and aggressive measures in the implementation of the ratified local and international legal instruments.


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This questionnaire is meant to explore on women rights in Tanzania, and especially her involvement in Tanzanias development (political, social, economic spheres).

I will appreciate your answers which will be totally treated CONFIDENTIAL. In this regards, do not write your name.

Tick the appropriate answer:

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Thank you so much for your cooperation.

[1] Map drawn from http://www.mapsofworld.com/tanzania/

[2] The 17 Sustainable Development Goals replaced the 8 Millennium Development Goals in a quest of accommodating everyone. http://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/presscenter/pressreleases/2015/09/24/undp-welcomes-adoption-of-sustainable-development-goals-by-world-leaders.html

[3] The World Bank conducted this research in 100 countries with majority of these from Sub Saharan Africa where Tanzania is located. http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/feature/2013/09/24/Economic-Development-Equal-Rights-for-Women

[4] The human rights based approach is guided by these principles: universality and inalienability, indivisibility, interdependence and inter relatedness, non-discrimination and equality, participation and inclusion, accountability and the rule of law. Its essence is to contribute to the development of the capacities of duty bearers to meet their obligations and or right holders to claim their rights.

[5] Human rights based approach emphasizes the need for nondiscrimination, equality, participation and inclusion which in this case women still lag behind in public participation in Tanzania.

[6] Tanzania has signed quite an impressive number of international human rights legislations, http://www.claiminghumanrights.org/urtanzania.html

[7] About Ludewa district https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ludewa_District


ISBN (Book)
Catalog Number
Institution / College
University of Pavia
Development human rights Tanzania



Title: A Distant Dream? Exploring the Impact of Women Rights on Tanzania's Development