Tanzania drops in gender equality ranks -Sunday Citizen

Date: April 13, 2011
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Description: Tanzania, previously lauded for its steps towards gender equality, has dropped dramatically in world gender rankings, from 38 in 2008 to 73 in 2009. According to the Global Gender Gap Index, the country is not making meaningful advances in gender equality and gender reform. This downward trend does not bode well for progress made on the political front where the country has been pushing to raise the bar from 30 to 50% women in decision-making as agreed in the SADC member countries. Maternal health problems, a rise in early pregnancies, lack of education and unfairness in the labour market are cited as some of the other problems for women. It is also pointed out that many good policies on women’s empowerment are not being implemented as expected.


This article is a good example of a gender-specific report which highlights the economic, social and political areas in which gender reform and parity are slipping. All this is discussed in light of the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development, which was signed by SADC governments in August 2008. The policy document, which has 28 set targets for increasing parity, has set a target of 50% representation in all areas of decision-making by 2015. The writer of this article rightfully raises the question of whether Tanzania will meet the target.

The writer goes a step further to try and explore the possible reasons for this backward slip. Reasons cited include gender-based violence, early pregnancies and unfair market practices. Also highlighted is the failure of Tanzania to allocate adequate resources to gender-based violence programmes and gender-specific issues.

The article takes a holistic look at gender inequalities in Tanzania and highlights that women and men need equal access to resources. This starts with access to education, which ultimately defines one’s place in society.

Gender discrimination is present in both the public and private sectors. Men are dominant in the professional and skilled workforce; women constitute only 38% of this group. The stark difference is prevalent in tertiary institutions as well – the male to female ratio of entrants is 2:1.

This article is not very strong on sources, making use of one secondary source and one primary source. The main source of information is the Global Gender Gap Index released by the World Economic Forum (WEF). This report is used as the basis for the article. It gives a lot of information and significant statistics on the positioning of women and men in Tanzanian society.

The other source is the Tanzania Media Women Association (Tamwa) Executive Secretary who engages with the findings of the WEF report. She gives valuable insight, from a gender perspective, on the possible causes of the slip in Tanzania ranking.

Leaving out government from this discourse assumes that gender equality is a problem that only women’s groups have to deal with. Whilst groups like Tamwa can work to fight gender inequality, without political will their chances of success are minimal. This article should have also sourced comment from government to find out what plans are being put in place to work towards the SADC 50% target. One of the reasons why women’s empowerment remains a mirage in Tanzania and other countries in the SADC region is the lack of political will.

The headline “Tanzania drops in gender equality rankÀ is appropriate for the content of the article. A lot of detail is given in the article relating to the drop in rank.

The language in this article is neutral. This, however, does not weaken the article, which does very well in highlighting the various areas relating to gender inequality. All the information given about women is juxtaposed with statistics relating to men. This therefore makes it clear that gender is not just about women. Women are given more attention in the discussion because they are the majority of those in the disadvantaged positions.

Visual images
There are no visual images accompanying the article. This kind of article does not necessarily need images to make its point.

The article is well-placed in the newspaper (page three), which implies that gender issues are considered important.   Sourcing of the information is well done and proactive. The content inspires the public and policy-makers that indeed, there is a problem which needs action. The article is transformative and change-oriented.

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