The cooperative platform of all the women’s organisations of the Tanzanian parliamentary parties is actively promoting the strengthening of women’s position in the country’s new Constitution. Essential for the platform is to ensure that the new Constitution will guarantee the equal participation of men and women in politics. The goal is no less than 50-50 representation in the decision-making bodies.
Demo Finland has supported the cooperation of Tanzanian political women’s organisations since 2006, and the Tanzania Women Cross-Party Platform (TWCP) was officially founded in 2010. From the very beginning, the cooperation has focused on promoting the 50 % representation of women in political decision-making bodies before 2015, which is recommended by the Southern African Development Community (SADC). This objective was first seen as utopian and unrealistic, but due to the persistent campaigning that has taken place mainly in the political parties, achieving it now looks closer than ever. TWCP has established its role as the voice of female politicians in Tanzania, and its opinions are also heard in the Constitutional Commission. Cooperation with Demo Finland and Finnish female politicians has strengthened the self-confidence of Tanzanian women in politics and also enhanced their skills to act in politics, which has contributed significantly to the achievements of the TWCP.
In Tanzania, the women politicians have been busy. They have organised discussions analysing the draft Constitution from the point of view of women’s participation. In August, TWCP organised a seminar in Dar es Salaam gathering women from all parliamentary parties to prepare their final comments that will be given to the Chair of the Constitutional Commission. TWCP wishes reforms to be made in the electoral system and an end to the quota system that puts women in an unequal position. The draft Constitution released in June proposes that each constituency would select a man and a woman. This is what the TWCP now wants to hold on to.
In the seminar, the Chair of the platform, veteran politician Anna Abdallah criticised the political parties for not giving women equal possibilities in the lead of the parties. An exception for this is the Tanzania Labour Party that has chosen the leader of its women’s organisation, Nancy Mrikaria as its vice-chairperson. Mrikaria has also visited Finland as Demo Finland’s guest. According to Anna Abdallah, it is time for women to take their place in the leading positions of political parties, and genuine democracy cannot be achieved without this. Former President of the Parliament and former vice-chairperson of the leading party CCM, Pius Msekwa showed his support to TWCP by participating in the event and presenting the differences between the current Constitution and the draft.
The constitutional review began in May 2012, and a referendum on the new Constitution is set to take place during the year 2014. This autumn, the TWCP will continue campaigning for example by working together with media and organising an event in Dodoma during a meeting of the Constitutional Commission.