Source: Tanzania Daily News
The International Women's Day has come and gone but there is little hope that enough effort will be done in this country to elevate women's societal status to its rightful place.

In fact, society should respond to women's long overdue hue and cry on this matter.

Women have complained several times about the injustices meted out on them by society. On the other hand, there is strong political willingness to address women's concerns and accord them the rightful place in the society. Harmful traditions, violence against women and girls are to blame for this anomaly.

It is true that the world over violence against women exists only that they differ in nature and magnitude. In conflict prone countries women and girls are the most affected as victims and survivors of sex slavery and casualties of war. In the so-called peaceful countries, women and girls are not assured of their safety either. They are victims of battery, rape, discrimination and neglect, the vice meted on them mostly by their spouses and close relatives including father, brother, uncle or family friends.

At work places such as private houses, bars, guest houses, hotels, shops and in farms women and girls occupy the lowest paying jobs. And some of them are bread winners for families. They are major players in the farm for production of food and cash crops -- they till the land mostly using the back breaking hand hoe, plant, weed, and send cash crops to markets but it is the spouse who takes the cash for his benefit either in alcoholism and add more wives.

Agriculture provides a livelihood for nearly 90 per cent of rural women and men. They produce over 60 per cent of the cash crops. But the women's contributions have been largely overlooked so far. On the global front, the UN's World Food Programme Gender Policy and Strategy have indicated that gender inequality is a major cause and effect of hunger and poverty, estimating that 60 per cent of chronically hungry people are women and girls.

The theme at this year's International Women's Day at national level was connecting girls for national development. The theme demands that parents must treat both boys and girls equally in terms of quality education, equal opportunity to right to play and monitor their progress. A statement by the Minister for Community Development, Gender and Children, Ms Sophia Simba, in marking this year's International Women's Day (IWD) observed on March 8, annually, pleaded for education for girls, saying it is only through education girls could become better mothers and active players in national development.

According to her, educated girls are assertive, have better potential for personal development and that of the country. True to the minister's statement, experiences indicate that educated women have smaller, healthy families that make an assurance of healthy nation. They show commitment to their work, thus, make them good leaders. Tanzania provides best practice for the benefit of giving quality education for her people, both men and women.

They have made the country proud by holding big and challenging jobs locally and internationally. Dar es Salaam Regional Commissioner, Merck Sadick acknowledged that at family level, girls are more supportive to their parents even when they move out to start own families. The facts that goes when you educate a woman you educate the nation or when you want something well done, give it to a woman have proved to be true. It is against this background that the government has been trying hard to provide good education to all its citizens both in rural and urban areas.

For example, the construction of Ward schools, notwithstanding the challenges, will go a long way to ensure all children of this nation get quality education. Critics are ridiculing these schools, citing them as cause for mass failures in Primary and Secondary schools final examinations, but have run short of providing alternative options on the way out.

It is true that Ward schools lack essential facilities, including competent teachers, teaching facilities such as text books and laboratory equipment for Science subjects and hostels aimed to reduce the walking distance for students to and from schools. Few, if any, have ever thought what would have happened to the critical mass of boys and girls if the ward schools were not available. It should be remembered that our population, with an average growth rate of 2.9 per cent, is among the highest in the world.

This calls for more education infrastructure to accommodate the growing number of the school-going children, thus, the Ward schools are here to serve this purpose. They should not be ridiculed. As this year's IWD rightly says, connecting girls for national development will make the country be in a better position to reduce illiteracy, poverty and move in the right direction towards implementation of the National Vision 2025. It is possible, let us all play our part.

Go to top