What the Future Holds for Women in Politics

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From 2015 to 2020 the United Republic of Tanzania had 7% elected women parliamentarians and 5%  local government councillors, respectively. The small number of women in these positions prompted Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and political party leaders to call for women to register as voters and to contest as candidates.

A high-level call was made by President of the United Republic of Tanzania H.E. John Magufuli whom, while dissolving the 11th Parliament urged political parties to include youth, women, and persons with disabilities in the electoral process.

Presenting her findings at the November Breakfast Debate hosted by Policy Forum, a renowned Governance , Gender and Disability Advisor, Dr. Victoria Lihiru unravelled that one of the causes of the minimal number of women candidates nominated by political parties is the Political Parties (Amendment) Act, 2019.

Dr. Lihiru stated that  the Act demanded political parties to ensure the inclusion of women in the election of political party leadership and electoral candidates. Progressive as it sounds, the Act is ineffective in commanding compliance by the political parties and enforcement by the office of the Registrar of Political Parties.

However, the Act does not stipulate the threshold , for instance the number or percentage of women the political party should have as its members, leaders, and candidates to demonstrate its compliance with the Act. It is therefore at the discretion of political parties to determine level of compliance.

Dr. Lihiru further highlighted that apart from the Act lacking provisions to support the explicit presentation of women in political spaces, the environment for women candidates who went through the nomination in the 2020 General Elections process was just one hurdle out of many. There were reports of  incidences of harassment and violence against women but however they lack systematic documentation.

On the other side ,  Dr. Lihiru expounded 50.33% of the voters registered by the National Electoral Commission (NEC) were female and 49.67% were male. Despite the slight higher figure of women voters, the presence of candidates was significantly low.

At the Presidential level, two political parties ; Alliance for Democratic Change (ADC) and Demokrasia Makini (DM) nominated women as presidential candidates. There were also five women in the Vice Presidential candidacy position from CCM, Sauti ya Umma (SAU), Civic United Front (CUF), Democratic Party (DP) and United for Multiparty Democracy (UMD).

Nevertheless, newly elected Member of Parliament (MP) , Hon. Judith Salvio Kapinga commenced her discussion by posing a questioning on why we need to invest in women and, she elaborated on the term “National Prosperity” as a drive to engage women as representatives of all groups in the society.

Taking us through memory lane, Hon. Kapinga explicated that after independence in 1961, there were only six female members of parliament and in 1995 after the first multiparty elections there was a steady increase.

“The elected MPs are prominent women who have sworn to undertake the duty with great value and dedication” said Hon. Kapinga as she encouraged the audience to provide support to them as they execute the reigning term.

Hon. Kapinga also urged stakeholders to engage  female MPs in dialogues such as the PF’s Breakfast debate because they are informative platforms which useful insights to be presented in the parliament.

From the audience , participants urged that the focus should not be on numbers rather female members of parliament should be vocal enough to present the needs of the people and  do away with party politics.

Dr. Lihiru shared an article from the study that was presented , it can be found on http://www.udadisi.org/2020/12/chronicles-of-women-participation-in.html?m=1

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