by Okuly Julius Dodoma
The Sixth Phase Government under the leadership of His Excellency Samia Suluhu Hassan, President of the United Republic of Tanzania, recognizes and respects all women and special groups, including widows.
According to the National Bureau of Statistics estimates that the number of widows in Tanzania is 8.8 hundred which is equivalent to 3.1 percent of all women in the country who are estimated at 28.5 million according to figures for 2019.
Speaking to reporters today June 22,2022 in Dodoma towards World Widows' Day the Minister of Social Development, Gender, Women and Special Groups Dr. Dorothy Gwajima said that various efforts have been taken by the Government to ensure the challenges facing widows are resolved.
"We recognize that World Widows' Day is a platform that brings together widows and gives them the opportunity to participate and identify the challenges they face and even strengthen partnerships for solutions to the challenges they face," said Dr Gwajima.
He added that "Tanzania celebrates Widows' Day with the aim of promoting awareness, solidarity and understanding within the community to stop violating human rights for widows. Thus, as a Nation, this celebration provides a common opportunity to identify the challenges of widows and how to to deal with them in our communities, "
He mentioned the efforts that the Government has been taking to include Recognizing World Widows' Day in line with working with stakeholders to set strategies to address the challenges of widows as outlined in the National Development Vision 2025; Women and Gender Development Policy of 2000, and its 2005 Strategic Plan; Beijing-based Declaration, the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals and the African Development Agenda 2063.
Educate the community to stop harmful traditions and customs;
Establish and strengthen systems to protect the rights of Widows by increasing legal aid services due to the enactment of Legal Aid Act No. 1 of 2017 which has enabled special groups including widows and children to secure their rights in law enforcement agencies;
In 2021 the Government provided legal aid to widows and 277 inheritance cases were decided on a victory verdict. This includes the conduct of proceedings and judgments in the defense of property;
Establishing Gender and Child Desks 427 in police stations; 153 facilities in the Prisons Service with the aim of eradicating sexual violence against Victims including Widows;
Establishment of the TOWN TOGETHER campaign to educate the community to stop sexual violence by involving men in educating the community;
Encouraging Widows to join groups and be enabled on various entrepreneurial projects; The Government has amended the Local Government Authorities Finance Act 2018, section 37A, which directs those Local Government Authorities to set aside 10% of Local Revenue (Women 4%, Youth 4% and People with Disabilities 2% ) for lending and bringing great results in empowering women.
The government has facilitated the enactment of the Village Land Act No. 5 (1999), Section 20 (1), which provides for Women to own Land. The move has resulted in an increase in land tenure for women from 9 percent (2014) to 25 percent in 2017.
Existence of a National Action Plan to End Violence Against Women and Children (MTAKUWWA 2017/18 - 2021/22), which aims to eradicate violence by 50% by 2022.
For her part, the Coordinator of Widows in the Country Mariam Aswile urged widows in the country not to be afraid to manage the resources left to them by their husbands and not to be afraid to report any incidents that violate their social rights and in doing so will help bring justice and equality in society.
World Widows' Day which is celebrated annually on June 23 this year and this year is carried by the theme "Dignity Economic Empowerment and Social Justice for Widows" which is based on the international theme "Dignity Economic Empowerment and Social Justice for Widows". It urges society to ensure that it values widows by giving them their rights and economic empowerment and reminds us that it is everyone's responsibility to protect the human rights and dignity of widows in accordance with the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the Rights of the Child.