Encourage Women To Grab Leadership Positions

By Daily News Reporter

THOUGH women are a vital and critical part of the society that for a long time has been driving change and development, gender inequality has been rearing its ugly head and shutting them out of their critical roles.

On the other hand, stakeholders throughout the world have been fighting against traditional norms and values, and all the factors that discourage women from taking an active role in realizing their potentials, to promote gender equality.

In Tanzania, the call for gender equality is being trumpeted through various channels and platforms, including the recent call to the government and other relevant actors to inspire, motivate, mobilize and facilitate women to take leadership positions in different spheres.

Despite women in all regions of the country having a constitutional right to contest for various leadership positions, the uptake is still low, as they still need more awareness and confidence for the country to attain a leadership ratio of 50/50.

Still, despite all the efforts and campaigns made so far, lack of will and daring minds make them shy away.

Only a few of them are involved in big decision making organs like the parliament or House of Representatives, a situation that makes their voices or concerns scarcely heard or attended.

But, in spite of these discouraging results, gender equality stakeholders have not given up hope and are continuing to mobilize women in the Isles to encourage them to join the leadership bandwagon.

One of the frontrunners of the campaign is none other than the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mgeni Hassan Juma, who said in a recent meeting with residents of Magomeni in Zanzibar that women should wake up and change their mindset that only men deserve political, legislatives or any other leadership post.

“The representation of women has been very low because we left all chances to men. It is our own mistake since we have the right to contest for them,” she added.

Despite their inferiority in number, women have raised their voices higher than men when it comes to serious issues that seek justice for the majority.

“There are three committees in the House of Representatives being headed by women, but they have been very efficient in making follow-ups in matters pertaining to various ministries and their associated institutions,” she added.

A Senior Lecturer at State University of Zanzibar (SUZA), Professor, Issa Haji Ziddy urged women in Zanzibar to come forward in huge numbers when seeking posts in various legislative institutions.

He said some of the women wrongly feel that there are verses in the Quran that prohibit them from vying for leadership positions.

“There is no such thing! There are no religious barriers that want women out of the leadership circle,” he stressed.

Citing an example, he said during Prophet Muhammad’s era, there were five women who were named heroes in the propagation of Islam in Mecca and Madina.

“For instance, Muhammad’s wife, Madame Khadija, was the chief advisor to her husband, and was the first one to support him when God granted him prophethood.”

Professor Ziddy warned people not to use the Quran verses against women or for their personal benefits.

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“There is Suratul Nisaa, 34th Verse that is translated as ‘Men are leaders of women, while the correct translation must be ‘Men are supervisors of women.’

He went on to mention powerful and highly respected women mentioned in the holy books, among them Mariyam Imran, who was the mother of Issa Bin Mariam (Jesus) and Madame Fatma who was the daughter of Prophet Muhammad.

Others include Madame Asya, the wife of Pharaoh, who convinced her husband not to kill a child, found thrown on the river, and the child later grew to become Prophet Mussa or Moses.

In a mission to address the issue, there is a team of 20 people formed to bring changes that will enable women to contest for the post in legislative institutions.

One of the team leaders, Mwalimu Zimba Khatib from Makunduchi, said times have changed and women have proved to be great leaders if they are given opportunities or encouraged.

He cited the example of Vice- President Samia Suluhu Hassan, who works very well with President John Magufuli and Premier Kassim Majaliwa in reconstructing Tanzania.

“She is one of the most successful women in Africa at the moment,” he added. He urged men to change their mentality that women can’t lead, while at the same time warning them against natural jealousy that makes them desire women to always stay at home.

“I would like to see more women contesting for posts in constituencies and not used as campaigners of men or candidates seeking those posts,” he added.

Additionally, Mwazini Jogoo from Makunduchi has warned those who use Quran verses to obstruct women from contesting for parliamentary or representative posts, to desist from doing so.

He admitted that men have been the biggest obstacle that bars women from seeking posts in the legislative institutions.

“I wanted to vie for a ward councillorship post in my area, but my husband threatened to divorce me,” revealed Mwatima Vuai, a resident of Jambiani in Unguja South.

Asha Abdi, a senior officer with Tanzania Media Women Association (TAMWA), working in collaboration with UN WOMEN group, has been deeply involved in a campaign to encourage women to vie for posts in legislative bodies, and believes the best thing at the moment is capacity building to women and not a campaign to make them join the leadership bandwagon.

“What we at TAMWA are doing at the moment, in collaboration with UN WOMEN, is to give the women leadership skills which will help when contest for legislative leadership.

We strictly don’t campaign for them during elections,” she elaborated. Bumbwini Constituency Representative, Mtumwa Peya Yussuf, urged her fellow women to be daring and stop thinking that only men can take posts in the constituencies.

She said that when she took nomination forms, many people, including women, scoffed at her while others encouraged her, telling her she can do it because she deserved it.

‘I won it at last … . But there are several challenges a woman can face when contesting for a leadership positions, still they can’t make one lose hope,” she explained.

The Deputy Secretary-General of Tanzania Women Association in Zanzibar, Tunu Kondo, believes no obstacles can bar women from contesting for leadership posts. Madame Kondo is still baffled to see women make 51 per cent of the Tanzanian population, but only a few of them have managed to win tickets to enter legislative houses.

“Tanzanian Women Organization (UWT), doesn’t have any objection for women seeking posts in the organization when election comes.

We would like, in coming elections, to see the number of women in the legislative houses go above double of what we have now,” she said.

Source: Daily News

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