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Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women considers reports of Tanzania

GENEVA (26 February 2016) - The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women today considered the combined seventh and eighth periodic reports of Tanzania on its implementation of the provisions of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. 
 
Presenting the reports, Modest J. Mero, Permanent Representative of Tanzania to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that Tanzania was fully committed to its obligations under the Convention and was making efforts to improve its legal environment accordingly.  It had established a Gender Mainstreaming Working Group, which had contributed to the review of cost sharing aspects in maternal health, leading to improved maternal services and an increased budget for combatting gender violence.  The Government continued to promote women’s economic empowerment and representation at the political level, and it had taken measures to eliminate female genital mutilation and other harmful practices, such as early marriages.  It had also undertaken numerous measures and actions to combat discrimination against persons with albinism. 
 
In the ensuing dialogue, Committee Members welcomed the Government’s commitment to improve health services, women’s representation and to combat harmful practices.  They expressed concerns, however, about the absence of comprehensive legislation addressing violence against women, as well as the existence of legal and customary norms that discriminated against women, particularly in the fields of family, inheritance and land ownership.  The situation in rural areas was of particular concern for Committee Members, where harmful practices, lack of access to services, and unemployment were still widespread.  Experts also noted with concern the lack of budget allocations dedicated to health, education and employment.  Finally, they referred to an individual communication concerning Tanzania and expressed regrets that Tanzania had not implemented the Committee’s conclusions on that case, in violation of its obligations under the Optional Protocol to the Convention.      
 
In concluding remarks, Asha A. Abdallah, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Empowerment, Social Welfare, Youth, Women and Children, expressed Tanzania’s commitment to the implementation of the Convention in all parts of the country. 
 
In her closing remarks, Yoko Hayashi, Chairperson of the Committee, commended the State party’s efforts and encouraged the implementation of the recommendations which would be formulated by the Committee.
 
The delegation of Tanzania included representatives of the Ministry of Empowerment, Social Welfare, Youth, Women and Children and of the Permanent Mission of Tanzania to the United Nations Office at Geneva.
 
The Committee will next meet in public on Monday, 29 February at 10 a.m. to hold a half day general discussion on gender-related dimensions of disaster risk reduction and
climate change, before starting the consideration of the combined eighth and ninth periodic reports of Haiti (CEDAW/C/HTI/8-9) at 3 p.m.

Reports
 
The combined seventh and eighth periodic reports of Tanzania can be read here: CEDAW/C/TZA/7‑8
 
Presentation of the Reports
 
MODEST J. MERO, Permanent Representative of Tanzania to the United Nations Office at Geneva, presenting the reports, expressed his full support for the work of the Committee and recognized the invaluable contribution of non-governmental organizations.  Tanzania was fully committed to its obligations under the Convention and its Optional Protocol, and was currently undertaking broad consultations on the amendment to article 20(1) with a view to implementing its aspirations as soon as practicable.  In mainstreaming gender issues into the national development frameworks, the Government was reflecting Goal 5 of the Sustainable Development Agenda, which underscored the importance of achieving the equality and empowerment of all women and girls.  The Government was undertaking a review of the National Strategy for Growth and the Reduction of Poverty with a view to developing strategies to address gender issues.  Tanzania was making efforts to improve its legal environment and was implementing a number of plans to eradicate violence against women and children, including in Zanzibar. 
 
The Government had established a Gender Mainstreaming Working Group, comprised of various stakeholders, to influence the process of gender mainstreaming and the allocation of more resources to gender equality and women’s empowerment in both Zanzibar and the mainland.  The Working Group had contributed to the review of cost sharing aspects in maternal health, leading to improved maternal services and an increased budget for combatting gender violence.  Similarly, the group was engaged in mainstreaming gender policies in Zanzibar, and recently engaged in reviewing MKUZA II with a gender perspective.  The Women Development Fund, the Zanzibar Economic Empowerment Fund, the Women Entrepreneur Development Trust Fund and the Tanzania Women’s Bank had empowered women economically and provided women entrepreneurs with soft loans.  Furthermore, the Government ensured that the proportion of seats held by women in Parliament continued to increase, amounting to 102 in 2010.  The proposed constitution aimed at achieving equal representation within Parliament.  Meanwhile, the ratio of women judges and magistrates had increased from 8 per cent in 2005 to 50 per cent in 2015.  
 
The Government had taken measures, including media campaigns, to eliminate female genital mutilation through criminalizing the offense under the Penal Code and implementing a National Plan of Action to accelerate its eradication.  The prevalence of female genital mutilation was estimated at 15 per cent and as high as 60 per cent in some regions.  In its efforts to end child marriage, the Government had enacted a Law of the Child Act which amended the Law of Marriage Act, replacing the definition of a child as any person under 18.  Perpetrators of child marriage could now be prosecuted through that law.   The Government had adopted a law, regulations, and an action plan to combat trafficking in persons.  It had also undertaken numerous measures and actions to combat discrimination against persons with albinism, including media outreach and efforts to prosecute the perpetrators.  The Government had embarked on the review of the Witchcraft Act and Alternative Medicine Act. 
 
Questions by the Experts
 
An Expert recalled that the Committee had already in the past expressed concerns over the non-incorporation of the Convention into Tanzania’s domestic legal framework, and had also urged Tanzania to adopt a definition of discrimination that was in line with the Convention.  Unfortunately, those recommendations had not yet been implemented, and a number of important reforms continued to be postponed until the Constitutional process was finalized.  The legislation and customary law continued to contain discriminatory provisions, particularly with regards to family laws, divorce and the division of properties.  Furthermore, the legislation on marriage and the Law on the Child contained different definitions of a child, and set different minimum ages to marry.  Would Tanzania harmonize its customary laws?
 
Access to justice also remained a problem, and the Government should implement the Committee’s recommendations on that issue.  An Expert asked how Tanzania’s judges and lawyers were trained on the provisions of the Convention in a systematic way. 
 
Noting that the Committee had issued conclusions in February 2015 on an individual communication under the Optional Protocol to the Convention regarding a citizen of Tanzania, an Expert asked how the Government made sure that its recommendations were implemented. 
 
Replies by the Delegation
 
The implementation of the Convention was an incremental process, and resources were needed.  The Government had raised awareness on the Convention through capacity-building activities targeting judicial personnel.  It had translated it into Swahili to ensure that the population could understand the Convention.  In addition, human rights education was provided in schools. 
 
Article 53 of the new Convention would address discrimination, and would clearly state that all discriminatory customary provisions had to be repealed.  In the meantime, the Government had enacted a number of laws to ensure protection from discrimination.  The Law of the Child Act had amended the definition of a child that was provided in the Marriage Act, and now prevailed over its provisions.  Women could inherit equally.  The legal system prevailed over the customary laws. 
 
Regarding access to justice, the laws were not discriminatory, a delegate said.  There were challenges regarding women’s knowledge of their rights under the Convention, and the Government was conducting awareness-raising activities in that regard.  The Legal Aid Bill was pending approval by the Cabinet and would hopefully be adopted during the next parliamentary session.  
 
With regards to the individual communication, Tanzania had responded that the complainant had not exhausted all national legal remedies, and that the case was therefore not admissible by the Committee.  The Government continued to work on encouraging the complainant to go forward at the local level.
 
Follow-up Questions by the Experts
 
On the individual communication, an Expert recalled that the Committee had found the case admissible, despite the claims of the Government.  The Committee had found that Tanzania had infringed on the Convention, and made very concrete observations in March 2015 to which Tanzania had to provide a response within six months, which it did not. 
 
Would Tanzania consider the creation of an action plan for the implementation of the recommendations by the Committee?
 
Replies by the Delegation
 
The delegation reiterated its position that the Committee had no jurisdiction over that individual communication as national remedies had not all been exhausted. 
 
Questions by the Experts

In a new round of questions, an Expert expressed concerns about the allocation of resources on women-related issues and their prioritization.  She noted that the Government had increased resources and asked what percentage of the overall budget was allocated to those issues.  Continuing, the Expert welcomed the creation of a Gender Mainstreaming Working Group, and asked for clarifications on how non-governmental organizations were invited to collaborate with it.  She then asked what mechanisms had been created to monitor and evaluate the implementation of the State’s policies regarding gender.
 
A Committee Member commended Tanzania for being a model in Africa for the use of temporary special measures for improving women’s representation. 
 
Turning to violence against women, Experts welcomed the Government’s high political will to address this issue.  Violence prevailed, however, particularly in rural areas.  Much of the problem was linked to a general lack of awareness, a lack of coordination for the implementation of legal provisions, as well as a lack of resources allocated to combatting violence.  Experts welcomed the law criminalizing female genital mutilation, but regretted that it only applied to women under 18.  She also asked for details on cases prosecuted, the sentencing of perpetrators, and efforts to provide assistance to the victims.  What measures had been taken to raise awareness in rural areas in order to combat harmful practices against women and girls, including female genital mutilation, early marriages, violence against persons with albinism and violence against those accused of witchcraft?  Would the Government adopt legislation to criminalize domestic violence, including marital rape?  Experts urged Tanzania to simplify its legislation and have a comprehensive and separate law on violence against women, and to seek international assistance if needed. 
 
An Expert noted that the media and education had a great impact on gender stigmatization.  The media should be used to raise awareness against harmful practices as well. 
 
Tanzania was a source, transit and destination country for human trafficking, Experts noted.  Tanzania had adopted action plans to combat that practice, and had provided awareness-raising programmes and trainings of law enforcement officials.  It was regrettable that the State party’s report contained no data on the extent of trafficking in the country, nor did it contain any information on the impact of Tanzania’s policies to combat trafficking.  How many shelters for victims had been created?  Continuing, the Expert expressed concerns that the law relating to prostitution undermined the efforts by the State to combat HIV, and could lead to human rights violations.    
 
Replies by the Delegation
 
A delegate underlined that the implementation of some provisions of the Convention had budget implications which Tanzania could not meet. 
 
On violence against women, a delegate said that female genital mutilation committed against a woman over 18 would be punishable as causing bodily harm.  Zero-tolerance campaigns had been launched with a view to ending this practice.  There had been no problem in prosecuting perpetrators of female genital mutilation under the penal code, but  creating shelters was a challenge.  All shelters were owned and administrated by non-governmental organizations.  The Government was currently undertaking a review of its legislation to better incorporate the provisions of the Convention regarding violence against women.  Although domestic violence was not criminalized by law, that did not mean that it was socially acceptable.  Information and awareness campaigns were conducted across the country.
 
The media had played an important role in raising awareness on violence against persons with albinism, the delegation said.  The Government had committed to ensure the freedom of the media. 
 
Questions by the Experts
 
On empowerment, while commending the State party for the increased number of elected women, one Expert wanted to know the proportion of women within the judiciary.  The delegation was also asked what the proportion of women was in the diplomatic services. 

On citizenship, a Committee Member asked whether Tanzania would revise its nationality law to make it consistent with the Convention, and asked whether the rules on the transmission of nationality were the same for women and men, and raised questions relating to access to nationality for long-term refugees from Burundi in Tanzania. 
 
The Committee commended Tanzania for collecting data on education, but urged it to collect data disaggregated by sex.  An expert was concerned that the number of secondary level-schools had dramatically decreased.  Therefore, was access to secondary-level education based on merits or was it based on the number of places available in the reduced number of schools?  What options existed for the 60 per cent of girls, including in rural areas and among girls with disabilities, who had no access to secondary education?  The secondary education system was elitist, and discriminated against an important part of the youth.  An Expert was concerned about the prevalence of sexual violence in schools, and asked what measures had been taken to address impunity?  Pregnant women were often expelled from schools, one Expert said, while noting that the Government would adopt a plan to facilitate their re-enrolment.  Would the Government provide sexual and reproductive health education at the primary and secondary levels?
 
Women’s unemployment was a serious issue in Tanzania, an Expert said, noting also that women domestic workers were very vulnerable.  Poverty was directly linked to women’s lack of access to employment, services and decision-making processes.  What progress had been achieved in generating economic policies that had a positive impact on women’s employment?  Had temporary special measures been considered to boost the representation of women in senior management positions?  The Expert was surprised that the State party’s reports affirmed that there was no gender pay gap in Tanzania, and asked what measures had been taken to implement the principle of equal pay for work of equal value.  Lastly, the Expert asked whether measures had targeted specifically young women’s access to employment.
 
The Committee commended Tanzania for its efforts in the area of health.  Concern was, however, expressed with regards to the lack of access to quality sexual and reproductive health, and the lack of sex education.  Further, there had not been a significant decrease in the maternal mortality rate, due to the persistence of barriers such as costs and unsafe abortions.  What measures were being taken to improve access to safe abortions and post-abortion care and to remove sanctions for abortions?  The lack of availability to contraception for girls was a matter of great concern.  What would be done to increase awareness and access to contraception, including emergency contraception?  Those concerns were directly linked to HIV-AIDS, the Expert said.  Lastly, the lack of budget allocated to health was problematic. 
 
Replies by the Delegation
 
Tanzania provided free education for all.  It had increased the number of universities, thus providing the opportunities for women to get quality education and equal opportunities.   Employment and recruitment laws and policies provided for equal opportunities for women and men.  Challenges remained as a result of social and cultural norms, which the Government sought to address.  The appointment of ambassador positions was a prerogative of the President.  Tanzania currently had a large number of female ambassadors, including in France and in Sweden. 
 
The Government had given the Tanzanian nationality to many refugees from Burundi and other countries, and had made great efforts to accommodate them despite its financial constraints. 
 
On education, challenges indeed existed, a delegate said.  The President had ordered regions to ensure that schools in all regions had laboratories in order to improve science education.  Secondary schools had been built, a delegate said.  Free secondary education was a new policy.   
 
Tanzania had cooperated with international donors to improve access to health
 
Follow-up Questions by the Expert
 
Experts underlined the critical importance of the issues of education, employment and health, and strongly encouraged the delegation to provide the Committee with concrete answers to its questions. 
 
Replies by the Delegation
 
The Government was ready to revise its legislation and enact a stand-alone comprehensive legislation on violence against women.  The Government had designated police officers in each region to address the issue of violence against children in schools.
 
On education, the Government had started developing “re-entry” guidelines for children that had dropped out school, and would gather data and statistics on that issue.  Reproductive health and sex education had been included in some school curricula, a delegate said.  Those curricula would be extended to rural areas.  Zanzibar had developed a manual on life-skills, which included sex education.  It had already undertaken a training of teachers on the content of this manual.  Zanzibar was also undertaking a review of the education sector to identify gaps, including with regards to gender equality. 
 
Turning to health-related matters, a delegate said that abortion was illegal in Tanzania.  Tanzania was however a signatory to the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (the “Maputo Protocol”), and would look into ways of changing its legislation without repealing the illegality of abortion.  The contraceptive prevalence rate remained low in Zanzibar, not because of a lack of accessibility but because of social and cultural barriers to the utilization of this service.  Awareness-raising campaigns, including targeting men, had sought to redress this situation.   The rate of maternal mortality was still unacceptably high in Zanzibar, and the local Government was committed to address this issue. 
 
With regard to employment, Tanzania was currently reviewing its Employment Plan from a gender perspective, and would allocate additional resources to women’s access to the labour market.  Tanzania lacked statistics on the gender pay gap.  It had established an Agricultural Bank, which encouraged women and formalized their agricultural activities as employment that could be subjected to data collection.  In Zanzibar, measures had been taken to promote women’s engagement into science and technology education and employment.  Zanzibar was also promoting self-employment, and had built the capacity of women in that regard. 
 
Questions by the Experts
 
An Expert noted that the majority of women engaged in the informal sector lacked access to social protection services, and asked whether the gender dimension of social protection had ever been considered.  
 
On women’s access to economic life, credit and productive resources, an Expert said it was difficult to assess the impact of the measures taken by the Government to increase women’s economic empowerment.  Was the Government planning to harmonize and coordinate its various policies in that regard?  What additional measures would be taken to strengthen women’s entrepreneurial capacities?
 
Eighty-one per cent of women in Tanzania were rural women, an Expert noted.  To which extent had rural women benefited from economic policies, credit and loans?  What measures had been taken to address the needs of rural women specifically?  What had their impact been?  Was there a specific budget dedicated to rural women?  Land property remained a real problem for rural women, as the implementation of legal measures and customary rules impeded on their capacity to own land.  Also, women with disabilities and tribal women lacked access to land property.  Customary laws relating to inheritance discriminated against women, Experts said. 
 
Replies by the Delegation
 
Zanzibar had developed social protection measures for vulnerable groups and rural populations.   The mainland Government had included social protection measures in its elderly policy. 
 
A number of funds had been established in Zanzibar to strengthen women’s economic empowerment and support entrepreneurship.  Zanzibar was currently undertaking a study on the impact of these funds. 
 
A Fund had been created specifically to support rural women.  Although that Fund was spread in many districts, challenges remained in raising women’s awareness on the availability of that Fund.  The President had supervised the development of infrastructure, including roads, throughout the country, hence reducing the isolation of some regions and providing economic opportunities for persons living in rural areas.  Furthermore, efforts had been taken to expand access to cheap fibre-internet.  Right now, the Government was working on expanding water access and access to electricity.  Tribal and indigenous populations had their cultural identity respected and had access to the same services as the rest of the population.   The land in Tanzania belonged to the State, one could not own a land.  Any citizen had the right to lease the land.  Two laws existed with regards to land inheritance, one formal and one customary law.  Neither of these provisions discriminated against women, and they protected widows from losing their land after the death of their partner.  Land grabbing was not popular in Tanzania. 
 
Concluding Remarks
 
ASHA A. ABDALLAH, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Empowerment, Social Welfare, Youth, Women and Children, expressed Tanzania’s commitment to the implementation of the Convention in all parts of the country. 
 
YOKO HAYASHI, Chairperson of the Committee, commended the State party’s efforts and encouraged the implementation of the recommendations which would be formulated by the Committee.

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