By Daniel Semberya
TANZANIA has joined other countries across the globe to celebrate the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, which has been cancer mainly to women, girls, and children, globally.
The campaign was initiated by the Women’s Global Leadership Institute in 1991 and is supported by the United Nation’s initiative to end GBV by 2030.
Speaking last week in Dar es Salaam during a symposium that was organized by TGNP, the organization’s Executive Director Lilian Liundi said that, since its establishment in 1993, they have been working jointly with other players from the community, up to the national levels, so as to attain zero gender-based violence.
She further said that this year their Knowledge Centres located in 15 districts across the country organized and carried out various campaigns against gender-based violence(GBV) faced by women and children.
According to Liundi, this year’s slogan is “citizen end gender-based violence now.” Internationally the slogan was “Orange the World: End violence against women now.”
While commemorating this, TGNP is focusing on evaluating and seeing how the available funds set aside to implement the national work plan are distributed to end gender-based violence to women and children.
“These celebrations give us a rare opportunity to think, discuss and incorporate one another the achievements attained in waging war against gender violence. Also discussing the challenges and lessons we get from those challenges.
And eventually, establish common strategies and have a unison voice on how to address this GVB calamity against women and children.
GBV has become a national calamity, especially among African countries where we see many deaths, disabilities, humiliation, and impoverishing the dignity of women, girls, and children.”
Due to gender-based violence practices, including acts of rape, one-third of women face this violence from their partners or friends.
Liundi noted that Gender-based violence has a major negative impact not only on women but also on the national economy, development, and social welfare in general.
According to findings by the World Bank Tanzania loses 1.2 percent of its national GDP over gender-based violence.
African countries lose around USD 105 million over lack of gender equality.
“Gender-based violence preventable and we can eliminate it if all of us will join hands/stand together and if everyone fulfills his/her responsibility.
We should not forget that gender equality is a foundation in building the world we want. And the world we want is that one which is free of gender-based violence against women and children.”
For his part, the Guest of Honour during that symposium, the Minister for Industry and Trade, Prof, Kitila Mkumbo said that anything that tries to remove the dignity and right of a person should be dealt with seriously.
He said among other things, the powerful weapon to end gender-based violence is education and life skills. “When women/girls are empowered with this skill and become financially stable, they will be liberated from gender-based violence and harassment,” he said.
For her part, Nasieku Kisambu, representing the Swedish Embassy in Dar es Salaam… whose portfolio is on governance, the rule of law, gender equality, and sexual and reproductive health rights, commended the government for the efforts, progress so far made in collaboration with civil society organizations and other key stakeholders on addressing gender-based violence in the Tanzanian community.
“We commend the opening of space and commitments towards gender equality. Our work on gender equality is core.
We are mindful and strategically aligned to the agenda 2030 on sustainable development goals (SDGs), Beijing Declaration and platform for action and other regional and international commitments.”
She said “We are honored to be part of this symposium today! This is because this agenda is our core business and because TGNP has been our key partner contributing to our flagship result area on gender equality.”
She further noted, the embassy of Sweden is guided by Sweden’s Feminist Foreign Policy which aims to ensure women and men have the same powers to shape society and their own lives.
“Our current bilateral strategy Tanzania has four result areas including Human rights, democracy, the rule of law and gender equality… we featured 16 champions committed to fighting inequalities, toxic masculinities, and all kind of violence against women and girls.”
Kisambu further noted that they know that even after the 26 years of Beijing, too little has changed. “We are committed to taking an intersectional and right-based perspective in addressing discriminatory socio norms, legislation, measures, and behaviors.
And we are happy that TGNP is one organization that leads Transformative Feminism in the country.”
Transformative feminism challenges patriarchy and recognizes the intersectionality of gender and other exclusionary social relations like ethnicity, age, marital status, disability, rural-urban.
“We are aware of the increasing incidence of violence against women and girls. And we are also of the same view with many of us here that the COVID 19 has sharply worsened the situation.”
This calls for broad efforts, through a multi-sectoral approach to normatively and operationally address the root causes of violence, focus on prevention, promote accountability sexual violence, engage men and boys, support women rights organizations, feminist movements, and civil society organizations.
We all need each other to address this agenda! …. We need good laws and policies, we need prevention strategies and norms, we need adequate financing, we need accessible and available services, we need Data and Accountability and we need education among other things.
Canada’s Head of Cooperation, Helen Fytche said that her country was proud to join the 16 Days of Activism Campaign, to reaffirm our commitment, to support action, and to add our voice to the countless activists, women’s rights groups, and organizations working to end gender-based violence.
“Canada strongly believes that advancing gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls is both the right thing to do and the most effective way to reduce poverty and inequality, and build a more peaceful, inclusive and prosperous world.”
For Canada, this is not just a date on the calendar. It is a moment to reflect on commitments to end violence against women and girls, to come together to call out, speak up and renew our commitment to end gender-based violence.
Events, such as this one, to meet and discuss the challenges faced by women and girls, and to hear from partners and members of the women’s movement about solutions to end violence, allow us to learn and ensure that our programming is responsive to real needs.
This year’s theme: “Orange the world: End violence against women now!” speaks not only to the urgency of ending gender-based violence but also to the fact that gender-based violence has been a reality for women and girls for too long.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the 16 Days of Activism Campaign – a Campaign that while necessary and has immensely contributed to eliminating gender-based violence, has gone on for 30 years too long.
As this year’s theme states, violence against women and girls must end now.
For every day that gender-based violence continues, more girls will be married when they are just children.
In Tanzania, which has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world, this means that almost 2 out of 5 girls will continue to be married before their 18th birthday.
More girls will be subject to female genital cutting and mutilation. Statistics show that in Tanzania 1 in 10 women have been cut and in some areas as many as 50% of women have undergone female genital mutilation.
More women and girls will continue to be sexually and physically abused. Intimate partner violence is widespread throughout much of Sub-Saharan Africa with a prevalence rate of 36% (higher than the global average of 30%).
More women and girls will be subject to harassment and sextortion. And now, in this digital age, cyberbullying, abuse, and harassment are yet another harm women and girls face where they are not even safe online behind a computer or a phone.
“Addressing gender-based violence requires a comprehensive approach focused not just on supporting survivors and bringing perpetrators to justice, but also healthcare, education, social protection, and economic development.”
It requires the empowerment of women so they can stand up for their rights and it requires women to be financially secure so they have the means to leave violent relationships.
Worldwide, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to an alarming increase in GBV, especially intimate partner violence.
We must continue to be cognizant of the increased risks of violence during this pandemic crisis and support work on prevention and response.
Meanwhile, Fetchy has commended President Samia Suluhu Hassan for speaking out about the importance of gender equality in Tanzania.
“We recognize efforts by the Government in addressing gender-based violence such as the creation of gender desks in police stations. This is a very positive step towards addressing GBV and creating a system to respond to violence. However, more needs to be done to prevent gender-based violence.”
This means addressing the root causes of GBV, more bluntly addressing gender inequality in all aspects of social, economic, and political life.
Recognizing that women’s rights organizations and movements are on the frontlines of transforming entrenched gender norms and harmful practices, Canada has committed USD5 million towards our Women’s Voice and Leadership initiative to support local women’s rights organizations in Tanzania to advance the empowerment and rights of women and girls, including eliminating GBV.
“Canada is proud to support TGNP, as we recognize your important role as a convener, an alliance-builder, a visionary, and a reformer.”
It is vital to talk about financing when it comes to gender equality and women’s empowerment. Rhetoric is not enough. We have to put our money where our mothers are, and we have to do it right if we want to see real change.
It is heartening for me to be in a room full of allies ready to end gender-based violence. Allies within government, workers’ associations, knowledge centers, gender school hubs, civil society organizations, private sector, Police Gender Desks, and concerned men and women from across the country.
Your diverse voices and experiences are essential to developing an inclusive action plan in the prevention and response to gender-based violence.