Women’s political empowerment is the responsibility of everybody i.e. the Government, Civil Society and the women themselves.
Similarly, gender is socially constructed and therefore it can be socially de-constructed for the interest of all members of society.
This analysis reflects on how the different players in promotion of women’s political empowerment in Zanzibar intend to proceed after Beijing.
Strategies have been high lightened for the way forward and in the process; an evaluation on the nature of the political system has been made asking whether the women’s role is just to get main streamed into it or to transform the very systems in order to make the systems more humane, more women friendly and therefore more democratic.
The National Report to the Fourth World Conference in the section dealing in power and decision making, recognizes that women in Zanzibar form 52% and they are majority voters in general election last years.
Also, in last general elections on October 28, the Zanzibar Electoral Commission (ZEC) recorded 566,352 voters, of whom 294,237 were females.
But for many women in Zanzibar, as in many other countries and especially in Africa, Asia, the Arab world and Latin America their voices are not listened, as a result getting their daily requirement is tougher compared to that of men.
Many of them carry the toughest burden of caring a family-looking for firewood, fetching water, cooking and washing.
For long they have complained about the hard work and continue asking for a relief.
Therefore, Women must endeavor to fight and seek for key positions in the political parties which have been dominated by men.
Going through this analysis, these words form my concluding remarks. We want a world where basic needs become basic rights.
Where poverty and all forms of violence are eliminated. Each person will have the opportunity to develop her or his full potential and creativity and women’s values of nurturance and solidarity will characterize human relationships.
We want world where all institutions are open to participatory democratization processes, where women share in determining priorities and decisions.
Only by sharpening the links between equality, development and peace can we show that the basic rights of the poor (and women) and the transformation of the institutions that subordinate women are inextricably linked. “Gita Sen and Caren from Development Alternative Visions: Third World women’s perspective, New York 1987.
The Government should accept the challenge.
The Government encourages everyone to be able to read and write and to ensure that no one is left behind it has set up adult classes, but the 2016/2017 Zanzibar households are headed by women.
The same survey shows lower literacy rates among women than men, but it is these illiterate women who are the heads of these households.
Poverty and ignorance
Maua Ame who came forward to contest a parliamentary seat in the last year’s elections, but lost to another aspirant, said she was upset with the poverty and ignorance she saw when she walked around the constituency during the campaign.
She said she was determined to bring changes if she was elected and hoped that those who managed to get leadership posts would do all they can to help women become economically independent and improve the status of women.
“There are households without toilets or access to clean water and experience drop-out school children especially women.
We need better infrastructure and educating the women about the importance of education and health care,” she said.
Candidates from all political parties in the elections committed themselves to be in the fore front in protecting women from sexual harassment, increases employment opportunities for youth, support marginalized people, transform the economy, expand social services, increase women’s opportunities in leadership positions and raise salaries of public servants.
But Kijakazi said efforts to bring a change for the better, but the pace is still slow and most of the problems which women face have not been given special attention.
Salma Lusangi, an Official from Women Association in Zanzibar said “Women have not yet been given major leadership roles and in some offices all top executives are men, although there are many capable women for those positions.” It was high time to think of having an inclusive government in which women will be trusted and given top leadership positions, she explained.
Gender stereotypes perhaps convince leadership that men have the attributes and competence require to take the helm of offices and corporations.
Fatma Masoud appealed to the President of Zanzibar to create an enabling business environment and this will help women to be economically stronger.
Beatrace John said the state of corruption in the country is alarming and hoped Dr. Mwinyi will take it more seriously so as to end this disgusting practice once and for all.
Dr. Mzee Ali a lecture at the State University of Zanzibar (SUZA), says Zanzibar needs leaders who will be responsible and seriously committed to the needs of the people.
“We want leaders who will stan firm to stop the misuse of public funds and ensure that the taxpayers’ money benefits the people rather than ending up in the leaders’ pockets,” he explained.
“I would be happy if the President would reduce taxes. We need laws that protect us and an innovative economy.
In this age, a creative economy needs good strategies.” She added.