- Tanzania's many European donors have united to further push for gender equality and women empowerment in the country. An action plan will be presented tomorrow and development aid funds will focus on gender.
The European Union (EU) delegation in Tanzania today revealed its "Action Plan on Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment in Tanzania for the period 2010-2012," which will be presented in Dar es Salaam tomorrow. It is the first of its kind, representing a collective effort by EU member states to "strengthen and coordinate action on gender issues at country-level." The EU collectively by large is Tanzania's biggest donor.
According to the head of the EU delegation in Tanzania, Tim Clarke, the action plan is only to "to assist the government of Tanzania to implement its gender commitments and to support the efforts women's groups and networks in their fight for greater equality." Tanzania on its own has "created a positive policy framework for gender equality," Mr Clarke emphasises.
But deep-rooted problems persist. Women are under-represented in decision-making bodies and have fewer opportunities within the labour and financial markets than their male counterparts. Local customary, inheritance and marriage laws still discriminate women and girls, according to the donors' analysis.
Further, sexual and reproductive health and rights are still neglected and the provision of maternal health care services is inadequate. Still, 13,000 women die each year in Tanzania during childbirth and pregnancy, corresponding to the world's 6th-highest number of maternal deaths. Gender-based violence also remains a dramatic phenomenon that has serious negative effects on the lives and health of women and girls, as well as significant socio-economic consequences.
The EU delegation in Tanzania already in 2008 started focusing development aid from its member countries towards gender issues. Since then, € 7.6 million (shilling 14 billion) "have been committed to projects which fight against gender based violence, promote women' and girls economic empowerment and improve access to education, maternal health care and sexual and reproductive health rights," according to Mr Clarke.
The new action plan is to promote the establishment of gender-sensitive domestic accountability mechanisms as an integral part of good governance. This is set to hold the government accountable to its citizens and empower women and men to voice their interests and needs, especially at local level.
The new EU Gender Action Plan aims at capacity building of key stakeholders, strengthening accountability, monitoring and evaluation systems using gender-sensitive performance indicators and supporting concrete actions to redress situations where women and girls are particularly disadvantaged. The EU will most notably advocate for the reform of discriminatory laws and practices, address land rights and violence issues, and support improved maternal, sexual and reproductive health services and women economic empowerment.
Starting in 2011, there will be a separate financial envelope for funding NGOs actions in the area of promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women. But funding for gender equality projects will start flowing already this year. EU financial support to promote gender equity and combat gender-based violence "will be doubled between 2010 and 2015," the plan foresees.
Already in April, the EU Delegation in Tanzania is planning to launch a € 600.000-worth local call for proposals funded by the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) to support right defenders and campaigns against gender-based violence.
Ambassador Clarke is optimistic about the action plan, which he holds will take gender mainstreaming from rhetoric to effective policy-making. "Two years on, we can report major successes and raise our commitment," the EU delegation head promises.
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