Agriculture contributes to 40 per cent of the gross domestic product and is a key element in the country’s second generation National Poverty Reduction Strategy, MKUKUTA.
Although women produce between 60 and 80 per cent of the food approximately 98 per cent of the economically active rural women engage in agriculture.
The Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) notes that few women own the land they cultivate, access profit of their labour or get opportunities to participate in training to improve skills and abilities to use modern technology.
Head of Graduate Studies at St Augustine University, Dr Jeremire Araka ties the imbalance to lower empowerment levels amongst women as compared to the men.
He notes that with literacy levels among women at 67 per cent and men at 84 per cent, access to employment opportunities of the two genders is unbalanced.
Unfortunately only 5 per cent of State budget goes towards education and agriculture, leaving g 10 million (60 per cent) women in absolute poverty with uncertain chances for empowerment.
Women make up 80 per cent of the labour force in rural areas and 60 per cent of food production is done by women, effectively making them the more important gender in the country.
The lack of access and rising interest rates of banks affects women’s development in agriculture. And at the peak of the global crunch which made way in 2008, the rising cost of living has increased women’s workload.
Female-headed households, Dr Araka says, are increasing bringing about increased labour constraints, archaic farming systems, inadequate services and meagre incomes.
Not to mention that only 22.5 per cent of legislators are women, the gender patterns in employment is another story of imbalance.
Government’s efforts to scale down the imbalance, includes Parliament committing 20 per cent of the seats to women, Local authorities are supposed to make sure that 33 per cent of the leadership posts go to women.
Even though the Land Law Act of 1999 and Village Land Act of 1999 have come into operation, existing legal and human rights system does not reach the majority of women.
Areas of concern remain with girls’ enrolment, in primary schools at 50 per cent. Due to their low education levels, women acquire limited knowledge and skills on how to manage their work is generally low.
Many women depend on poor technology, which is time consuming and labourious. Women who benefit from credit funds are usually urban based and credit processing can be cumbersome.
There is lack of resources to establish women business centres which would offer training on quality and better packaging of their products so as to attract internal and external markets.
Women are unable to access loans from financial institutions such like commercial banks as they lack collateral such as land, and property.
Emphasis should be placed on addressing social, economic political and cultural barriers that limit women’s rights and hinder them from unlocking their fully participation and potential in economic growth and poverty reduction.
Access by women to land and other productive resources should be given special attention. Dr Araka says there is a need to strengthen the enforcement of the Land Acts by imparting knowledge to law enforcers on women rights, as well as disseminating knowledge about property rights.
Margret Chacha of Tanzania Women’s Bank, says more women need to be able to access financial institution services including short, medium and long term loans, savings opportunities and big loans to enhance their working capital and the growth of their businesses.
She agrees there is relation between education and income. “The better educated you are, the more likely you are formally included,” she says.
The Assistant Director, Employment Promotion at Ministry of Labour, Employment and Youth Development Marietta Macha said that economic empowerment of women and employment opportunities are among the five key components that Tanzania opted to address in the Beijing Platform of Action.
For a better assessment of gender dimensions in terms of access to employment opportunities between women and men in Tanzania, availability of relevant and reliable statistical data and information is paramount With an economically active population of 18.8million, 16.6 million are employed and 2.2million are unemployed.
She says employment trends between 1991 and 2006 show unemployment rate slightly dropped for women by 1.6 per cent and for men by 0.9 per cent, meaning that there was an increase in the number of women employed whether wage employment or selfemployment.
Since 1991 more women compared to men were not in formal employment. A majority of women are engaged in the private informal sector subsistence farming, and housework; the sectors that are characterised with poor working conditions, low income gains and even unpaid work.