Source: Tanzania Daily News
SOME activists in the country have accused the Constitutional Review Commission, saying they schedule their meetings to collect views without taking into consideration interests of women.

Speaking during the International African Women's Day in Dar es Salaam, the Tanzania Constitution Forum Chairman, Mr Deus Kibamba, said that the Commission was allotted ample time and finances to reach everyone, but their modes operandi ensured women were excluded.

"What the Constitutional Review Commission has been given (33bn/-) is far much more than what the Ministry of Gender, Community Development and Children was allocated and therefore I would suggest that meetings be held once in the afternoon so that women's views are included," he said.

Mr Kibamba said morning meetings take place at a time when majority of women in the country are busy collecting firewood to cook for their families or are engaged in other economic activities like digging and fetching water.

The International African Women's Day's 2012 was held under the theme 'empower African women for development.' The Tanzania Women and Children Welfare Centre Executive Director, Ms Edda Mariki said that the government was to blame for allowing globalization to affect Tanzanians, saying the country's culture has been submerged by Western ways.

"This is my personal belief and I will agree to be challenged by anyone. However, call me old fashioned but this is what I believe and nothing can change that," she said. She, however, said that she did agree that there were some cultures that were outdated and they greatly hampered our society which is largely comprised of people too scared to dare.

Ms Mariki said that many women in the country are haunted by the inability to dare because of some outdated customs, saying that with careful analysis one will see that the gender violence that is reported in the media is because of customs that prohibit women from protecting themselves and speaking out on what is happening to them.

"For example, there are many instances in public transport vehicles where you hear the conductor whilst quarrelling with another saying that, 'you are just a woman (mama), you can't do anything to me. The use of the word 'mama' has been turned into an insult and this is discrimination that many women face," she said.

The Women in Law and Development in Africa (WiLDAF) Coordinator, Dr Judith Odunga said that according to global statistics women surpassed men and that it was evident and clear that in Tanzania women were bigger contributors to the economy than men.

Dr Odunga said that in spite of the countless policies, frameworks and legislation that have been formulated and passed in and outside the country, women still faced challenges including lack of access to land for use as collateral and laws that discriminate against women.

"Let me take this opportunity to call upon the community to join hands to fight the discriminatory norms and tendencies that hinder women from engaging in economic and social developmental activities," she said. 

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