Empowerment of women is key to the socio-economic development of the interior of the country
He said traditional norms and religious beliefs prevent women from being active members of society and participating in development activities.
“We started to conduct research in 2014 (baseline survey) to find out what prevents women from participating in economic and development activities, and to raise awareness on gender equality, especially on economic issues. Ensuring gender equality is somehow difficult because government laws are inconsistent with customary laws,” Dr Mmari said in a recent interview with The Guardian, adding that the research was repeated in 2017.
The research findings, he said, showed that despite the government’s efforts to empower women through the Tanzania Social Action Fund (TASAF) III and the Productive Social Safety Net (PSSN), women were still lag behind men in many areas, including decision-making and access to resources. .
“We are proud to work for the empowerment of women; we organize training for women engaged in the agriculture and livestock sub-sector. Our aim is to enable them to produce quality products that meet the required standards,” he noted, adding that they have even provided training to Maasai women on the production of quality animal skins.
Maasai women were previously prohibited from engaging in economic activities, but following increased awareness of gender equality; they now produce skins and earn money for themselves.
In Zanzibar, Dr Mmari said they had trained a total of 26,000 seaweed farmers, 80% of whom are women, on how to add value, but also advised the government to help them in the transformation of algae.
REPOA is also working to improve the rice value chain, highlighting the need for the government to invest in infrastructure development, promote value addition through better linkages between farmers, millers and markets, and improve capacity building programs to develop suppliers.
18 percent of rice is produced by Tanzanian households and about 30 percent of the rice harvested is consumed domestically. Rice is mainly grown in the regions of Morogoro, Mbeya, Mwanza, Shinyanga, Tabora and Rukwa.
Dr. Mmari added that this month, REPOA will organize a training of trainers in the horticulture industry in the Njombe region. The cultivation of vegetables and fruits in the region is mainly practiced by women.
The data indicates that globally, the demand for fresh fruits and vegetables is expected to reach 600 million tons and 850 million tons respectively by 2022. Horticulture is practiced in Manyara, Tanga, Kilimanjaro, Arusha, Ruvuma , Mbeya, Iringa, Morogoro and Zanzibar.
REPOA’s Visiting Principal Researcher, Professor Paschal Mihyo, said research-based policies are likely to bring the desired results when implemented. He said the government had used his research for nine years and also worked closely with the National Assembly and the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA), an organ of the African Community. Africa (EAC) in developing the curriculum for the East African Parliamentary Institute (EAPI) for the training of MPs and Bunge staff.
According to Prof. Mihyo, there are several policies and laws that have been formulated but are hardly implemented, possibly due to weak citizen participation and research. 2017 which have not been signed by all Partner States.
“The weak involvement of citizens at the local level and the lack of use of research in the formulation of policies can affect the implementation of laws. Although the number of scholars and scholars on the subject is low, there is a need to conduct research before drafting the laws/drafts as most of them are not ratified,” he said. .
Regarding the empowerment of women, he said that they looked at the industrial sector while most of the women involved are in the informal sector, hence the need to bring them into the formal sector. He said economic changes are pushing women behind as most jobs are held by men.
Prof. Mihyo stressed the need for continuous sensitization on the importance of gender in all sectors, linking the issue to customary laws, which sometimes makes it difficult to balance gender equality.