Women in leadership: Why gap is still wide
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Executive Director of Women Fund Tanzania Ms Mary Rusimbi presents a paper at an event in Dar es Salaam. She is flanked by the Chairperson of the Coalition of Women and Constitution Tanzania, Prof Ruth Meena.

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ALL women have in-born leadership character. What needs to be added is talent promotion, and this mostly should be done to African women, who work hard but earn very little,‘’ says a political scientist and human rights activist, Prof Ruth Meena.

Prof Meena also emphasizes that women have in-born listening skills, an important leadership element which serves in maintaining flexibility, among other qualities. The only huddle that women have to grapple with is the ‘outdated’ patriarchal system which has thrived for ages and maintained by men for fear of being conquered.

“There is nothing to fear, women are naturally powerful in leadership and have been so in their own right ever since they became mothers. Almost all poor families’ survival depends much on the struggles of the mothers”.

According to Prof Meena, there are many cases involving men who abandoned their families, leaving women and children to suffer on their own. However, mothers finally come up with solutions to make sure children and other members of the family lead a normal life.

“Is there any other leadership technique that is worth the word than providing food to family members, sending children to school and providing them with all necessary educational materials and even making sure they have access to health services any time,’’ she queries. Yet, it is the same women whom society has denied them their rights to take up leadership positions , including those in the political and economic arena

.“I believe it is time relevant appointing authorities including President John Magufuli to see that more and more women get leadership positions and see how they are capable enough to bring about quick family and national positive changes.”

According to Prof Meena, it is this kind of denial to get sufficient leadership positions which compelled women activists to form various organs, including the ‘Coalition of Women and Constitution Tanzania,’ to lobby for these opportunities.

The Coalition is getting set to revive the debate on the availability of a new Constitution which promotes “Women Bill of Rights,” according to Prof Meena, who also chaired the Coalition.

Apart from the efforts seeking to raise the issue of women in leadership, Prof Meena also mentions the right of education to female children and proposed inclusion of leadership subject in the primary primary school education curricula.

“This move will help produce not only more fighters but also create competent female leaders to spearhead sustainable positive changes in the society”. Feza schools supported Prof Meena’s point, saying there also should be regular debate sessions in schools, to help create confidence and promote talent especially in female students many of whom have exhibited a natural inferiority complex, when compared to their male counterparts.

The Schools Director Ibrahim Yunus insisted that, as per the Say“Charity begins at home”; good leaders should be created from childhood. Last week, Feza international school conducted a debate which brought together over 153 students from 10 public and private schools, spread across 4 regions in the country, namely Kilimanjaro, Dar es Salaam, Pwani and Zanzibar.

The debate dubbed, ‘the future of Tanzanian debate’ was conceptualized on the theme, ‘Assertive youth for a better Africa’.

“Debate as a skill is essential in nurturing talkative citizens who understand logic as their first tool of analysis and the art of embracing dissent,” he said.

Commenting on what should be done to make sure there is equality in leadership matters, unlike currently where men seemed to overturn women; the Director said: “Let us first create the well educated and confident professionals with enough leadership skills in regard with gender balance.

Then after, time will tell what is next.” The debate female finalist Shally Jackson, from Tusiime secondary school supported the motion; saying she was not sure as there were enough well educated female to compete with men in leadership sphere.

She predicted that even if there were skilled women, most seemed to have been lacking confidence; proposing regular self-confidence workshops to those already in jobs. For school children, continuous debate would play a significant role but forecasting that English language is used as a medium of communication, might be a barrier especially to public learning institutions.

“I would like to propose Kiswahili-based dialogues in these competitions so as to draw many participants. Only private and public schools’ intermingling can serve in promoting participants’ self-confidence, among others,” she opined.

On her part, Executive Director of Women Fund Tanzania (WFT), Ms Mary Rusimbi said that Tanzanian women have been politically denied their constitutional rights for too long. She said it was time for Tanzania to practically implement women rights’ Regional and International Agreements it has been signing; adding that, if the question was level of education, there were so many elite female from various fields.

“Generally, there are lots of claims and charted strategies on the issue of women leadership , but let the government first effect this gender balance in political related issues. The findings show that there are enormous achievements in most institutions led by women simply because they are not getting bribed in any way,” she said.

“People should think about the number of male public servants who have been experiencing demotion- related cases in association with corruption, negligence, theft etc. I have never heard of a woman falling into this trap, if my memory serves me right, ” says Ms Rusimbi

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