Gender Equality and Empowering Women and Girls
What is the difference between gender and sex? Gender refers to the socially-constructed differences between women and men hence might be defined differently from one society or group to another and also change over time. Sex is the biological difference between women and men. Gender equality is a human right.
Educated and healthy women do play a benefiting role in family, community and national development, and significantly contribute to economic growth and poverty reduction. However, empirical evidence reveals that worldwide and in various spheres of private and public life women and girls are still struggling to participate fully and equally in society. Often, they do not enjoy same rights, opportunities and obligations as men and do not benefit equally from resources and services. Promoting gender equality and in particular empowering women and girls are therefore key development concerns. Eradicating gender disparities involves the active involvement and support of women, men, boys and girls, and remains a central element for achieving gender equality.
As part if its mandate, UNFPA supports the United Republic of Tanzania in advancing gender equality and promoting the empowerment of women at different levels; and in collaboration with various national and international partners.
In recent years, progress has been made towards gender equality in many areas in Tanzania. For example, gender parity in primary school has become a reality and the number of female parliamentarians in Tanzania Mainland and Zanzibar has increased. Also, various sectors have formulated gender responsive policies. However, despite these achievements, gender inequality still remains a challenging reality in various spheres of life in Tanzania.
More women than men are illiterate. In Tanzania mainland 36% of women compared to 20% of men are not able to read and write (respectively 30% of women compared to 17% of men in Zanzibar). Also, women are more affected by and infected with HIV/AIDS. With an HIV prevalence of 5.7 in Tanzania, the prevalence rate among women is higher, with 6.6% compared to 4.6% among men. Furthermore, maternal mortality remains high and accounts for 578 deaths per 100,000 deliveries in Mainland Tanzania. Gender Based Violence (GBV) remains a major public constraint with consequences that primarily affect women and children.
Our partners and main areas of support
In Tanzania, UNFPA works closely together with the Ministry of Community Development Gender and Children (MCDGC) www.mcdgc.go.tz in Mainland the Ministry of Labour, Youth, Women and Children Development (MLYWCD) www.mlywcd.org in Zanzibar; and the NGO Tanzanian Gender Networking Programme (TGNP) www.tgnp.org to advance women's rights and promote gender equality.
Tanzania has ratified various international and regional agreements and conventions in relation to women's rights and gender equality. UNFPA supports its partners in implementing and monitoring those agreements and conventions and hence in fulfilling its commitments.
On the international level, Tanzania has for example signed and ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/cedaw which has a strong focus on women's rights to health and reproductive health in particular. Tanzania is also a signatory of the 1994 Cairo International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) Programme of Action www.unfpa.org/icpd/icpd.cfm in which women's rights, advancement and health are central elements; and of the 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform of Action of the Fourth World Conference on Women (FWCW) www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/beijing, reinforcing commitment to promote gender equality, development and peace for all women worldwide. In 1999, together with all other UN member states, Tanzania adopted the Millennium Development Declaration www.un.org/millenniumgoals/poverty.shtml which shows a strong gender component with Millennium Development Goal (MDG) number 3 aimed at promoting gender equality and empowering women. Other goals, such as MDG 5 on maternal health respectively are also directly related to the aim of promoting gender equality. Regional commitments include the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Declarations on Gender and Development and the Declaration on Gender Equality in Africa (EGA).
UNFPA supports the Tanzanian Government and non governmental partners in mainstreaming gender in policies, laws, programmes and various budgets in different sectors (health, agriculture, education, etc.), and at national level. This means that gender sensitive data are collected and analysed, gender disparities then taken into account and efforts made to address them through various strategic documents and programmes as well as through specific resource allocations so that men and women, girls and boys benefit equally at all levels. Additionally, UNFPA supports its partners in engaging in advocacy and awareness raising activities to encourage understanding and support in working towards gender equality.
UNFPA supports its governmental and non governmental partners in strengthening efforts in preventing and responding to GBV and hence supports Tanzania in fulfilling its commitment as a signatory of the international Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/cedaw. Today, GBV is recognized as a human rights violation and a serious public health problem with legal, social, cultural, economic and psychological dimensions. The United Nations Declaration on Violence Against Women defines gender-based violence as an act "that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivations of liberty, whether occurring in public or private life." UNFPA provides support to partners in the area of research, including GBV issues in relevant policies, awareness raising on community, service provider and policy level, advocacy, review of laws, training of health service providers and law enforcers.
Collaboration with multilateral and bilateral partners
UNFPA collaborates in Tanzania with other UN Agencies and various Development Partners to address gender related issues, mainly through two established groups, the Inter Agency Gender Group (IAGG) and the development Partners Group on Gender Equality (DPG GE).
Gender equality and empowerment of women are integral part to the UN's mission in achieving critical objectives in development, peace, and security and human rights. In the spirit of UN reform Delivering as One, UN Agencies in Tanzania have established the Inter Agency Gender Group (IAGG) to strengthen efforts, use synergies and apply a coherent and coordinated approach in mainstreaming gender in all UN supported programmes in Tanzania and hence to support the Tanzanian Government in promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls. As the current chair of IAGG, UNFPA coordinates and supports the group in fulfilling its assignment.
In 2007, UN Agencies and Development Partners from various countries present in Tanzania established the Development Partners Group on Gender Equality (DPG GE) to coordinate and harmonize their development efforts towards gender equality in Tanzania. Hereby, the DPG GE works closely together with the Ministry of Community Development Gender and Children (MCDGC) to support its efforts in promoting gender equality and women's empowerment on at national level. As the current chair of DPG GE, UNFPA coordinates and supports the group in fulfilling its assignment.