Tanzania has made significant efforts to promote women’s empowerment and gender equality. National development plans have prioritised women’s empowerment and taken a gender sensitive approach, while gender has been mainstreamed in selected sectoral policies. Yet, deep-rooted discriminatory social norms and practices persistently affect women and girls’ economic liberties and safety, according to the Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI) Country Report for Tanzania,launched today in Arusha.
The report, developed by the OECD with support from UN Women Tanzania and the Government of Ireland, reveals several factors limiting women’s economic opportunities in Tanzania. Social norms and traditional gender roles largely dictate that men should be the breadwinners and that women should work under the control of men. New data collected by Tanzania’s National Statistical Offices, the National Bureau of Statistics and the Office of Chief Government Statistician reveal that Tanzanian women undertake three times more unpaid care and domestic work – such as cooking, cleaning, washing, fetching the water and taking care of the children – than men. As women are still expected to work for pay, these norms impose a double burden of paid and unpaid work on women’s shoulders. This often forces them to choose flexible jobs in order to balance paid work with household duties, confining them to vulnerable and informal employment.
The SIGI Country Report for Tanzania also highlights persistent barriers that threaten women’s and girls’ physical autonomy. Tanzanian women are highly exposed to violence: 48% of them have survived intimate-partner violence at least once in their lives; 23% in the past year. The report reveals that violence against women is underpinned by its widespread social acceptance. Around 50% of Tanzanian men and women believe that a man is justified in hitting or beating his wife under certain circumstances such as if she burns the food, goes out without telling him, neglects the children or argues with him. Meanwhile, the practice of female genital mutilation and cutting (FGM/C) has been gradually eliminated but remains a serious cause for concern in certain regions of the country – primarily in the northern part of Tanzania. Estimates from the SIGI Country Report for Tanzania suggest that, overall, more than 2 million Tanzanian women today experienced some form of FGM/C over the course of their life.
Finally, while girl child marriage has drastically decreased over the last 50 years, progress has slowed down recently, calling for renewed efforts from authorities to eradicate the practice. In 2021, 16% of women aged 20-24 years had been married, divorced or widowed before turning 18. Social acceptance perpetuates and upholds child marriage, particularly in rural areas, with serious consequences for women’s and girls’ health and socio-economic status, notably through higher adolescent pregnancy rates and lower educational attainment.
Against this backdrop, and in addition to specific thematic policy recommendations, the SIGI Country Report for Tanzania proposes high-level and long-term actions to guide Tanzania’s policy design: