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Tanzania Can Do More to Protect Its Women and Girls and Promote Gender Equality

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While there are many promising opportunities to advance women’s empowerment and gender equality in Tanzania, the high rates of gender-based violence in the country remain a serious concern, according to two new World Bank Group studies which call for the Government of Tanzania to continue to strengthen the policy and legal environment to protect the nation’s women and girls.

The two reports, the Tanzania Gender Assessment 2022 and the Tanzania Gender-Based Violence Assessment 2022, bring together the latest evidence on gender gaps in human endowments, economic opportunities, ownership and control of assets, and (women’s) voice and agency; and the effectiveness of concrete policy and programmatic interventions that address these underlying drivers. The Gender-Based Violence (GBV) Assessment focuses on GBV legislation and policies, systems and coordination, and response and prevention programming.  

It is encouraging to see the commitment of policymakers to end violence against women and children in Tanzania,” said Mara Warwick, World Bank Country Director. “However, as our studies show, existing efforts such as the National Plans of Action need to be supported by sustainable funding for their implementation. Also, laws that continue to undermine the rights of women and girls to be free from violence and discrimination need to be urgently reformed, such as the Law of Marriage Act whose repeal is still pending.”

The analysis shows that despite the comprehensive framework for preventing and responding to GBV and Violence Against Children (VAC) through the National Plans of Action (NPA, 2017- 2022), and the establishment of ample government coordination mechanisms, violence against women and children remains a nationwide problem. More than 20 percent of all women aged 15-49 years have experienced physical violence in the last year (40 percent in their lifetime), and about 75 percent of children experience physical violence by a relative before the age of 18. Moreover, 58 percent of women and 40 percent of men believe a husband is justified in beating his wife under certain circumstances.

According to the studies, the high rates of GBV, including intimate partner violence, are attributable to two key drivers—i) social norms, with exacerbating risk factors in the high rates of early marriage and childbirth; low levels of economic independence and education for women and ii) women having lower levels of agency and decision-making power due to their lower participation in employment, their lower earnings, the age gap between husbands and wives, and being in a polygamous relationship.

“To combat GBV, it is important to build legal literacy among the population through translation of laws and policies, as well as support to widespread community outreach and sensitization,” said Yaa Pokua Afriyie Oppong, World Bank Sector Leader and report co-author.

Global evidence suggests that investments to keep girls in school may be particularly critical for reducing child marriage and early childbearing,” said Inaam ul Haq, World Bank Program Leader and report co-author.

The authors make several recommendations in each of the areas of investigation including an urgent call for action to change the legislative framework to address child-marriage as a key driver of GBV. The Law of Marriage Act set the minimum age of marriage at 15 for girls and 18 for boys. In 2016 the High Court of Tanzania ruled that the minimum age for girls was unconstitutional, and this ruling was upheld subsequently by the Court of Appeal in 2019. As part of this ruling, the government was instructed that within one year it should change the minimum age of marriage for girls to be 18, however this reform is still pending.

Additionally, a review of the NPAs’ National Community and outreach is recommended in order to ensure alignment with best practices for prevention of GBV, together with investing in improvements to GBV information management systems to ensure standardized and quality GBV data is collected throughout the country.

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UNICEF urges leaders to keep schools safe following deadly Texas shooting

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Governments must take greater action to ensure school remains a safe place for boys and girls, the head of the UN children’s agency, UNICEF, said on Wednesday, following the latest deadly school shooting in the United States. 

At least 19 children and two teachers were killed on Tuesday when 18-year-old gunman Salvador Ramos opened fire at Robb Elementary School in the small city of Uvalde, Texas, located near the border with Mexico. 

How many more? 

Catherine Russell, UNICEF’s Executive Director, said there have already been “horrific attacks” this year on schools in Afghanistan, Ukraine, the US, West Africa and beyond. 

“Tragedy after tragedy, shooting after shooting, young life after young life: how many more children will die before government leaders act to keep children and their schools safe? Because until they do, these horrors will continue,” she said in a statement. 

Ms. Russell emphasized that outside of their homes, school is the one place where children should feel safest. 

She noted that in addition to the lives lost, “many more children, teachers and school staff who witnessed the carnage will bear the emotional and psychological scars for the rest of their lives.” 

Shock and sadness 

UN Secretary-General António Guterres was deeply shocked and saddened by “the heinous mass shooting”, saying it was particularly heart-wrenching that most of the victims are children.  

Mr. Guterres has extended his heartfelt condolences to the families and loved ones of the victims and to the entire community, his Spokesperson said in a statement issued on Tuesday. 

UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed expressed her outrage in a post on Twitter. 

“When children go to school, they should only be concerned about learning,” she wrote.  “Children should not go to school fearing for their lives!” 

Ms. Mohammed said her heartfelt prayers are with the families, classmates and teachers who are mourning this “devastating loss”. 

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Zimbabwean peacekeeper selected as UN Military Gender Advocate of the Year 2021 Award

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Following reports of sexual and gender-based violence against women collecting firewood in Rubkona, South Sudan, Captain Irene Wilson Muro and and Major Winnet Zharare (2nd from the right) reached out to local women to discuss ways to stem the abuse. Photo: UNMISS

A Zimbabwean peacekeeper who recently completed her assignment with the UN Mission in South Sudan, will receive the 2021 United Nations Military Gender Advocate of the Year Award. 

Military Observer Major Winnet Zharare, 39, served in Bentiu, South Sudan in 2021-2022, and will receive the award from the Secretary-General António Guterres during a ceremony marking the International Day of UN Peacekeepers on Thursday, 26 May 2022.

Created in 2016, the United Nations “Military Gender Advocate of the Year Award” recognizes the dedication and efforts of an individual military peacekeeper in promoting the principles of UN Security Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security, as nominated by Heads and Force Commanders of UN peace operations.

Secretary-General António Guterres commended Major Winnet for her award. “Major Zharare is a role model and a trailblazer. Through her service, she has demonstrated the invaluable role that women play in building trust, advocating for change and forging peace,” he said. “Her example shows how we will all gain with more women at the decision-making table and gender parity in peace operations,” Mr. Guterres added. 

Major Zharare expressed her gratitude and pride in receiving  the award which, she said, “motivated [her] to maintain [her] course towards gender equality.”

“My parents gave us equal opportunities with my brothers, so I believe that equal opportunities should be given to both men and women in all aspects of life,” she added.

Major Winnet Zharare deployed to UNMISS in November 2020. Throughout her 17-month-long service, she advocated for gender parity and women’s participation, within her own ranks, among local military counterparts, and in host communities.

As the Chief Military Information Officer in UNMISS’  Bentiu field office, she helped ensure that patrols included both women and men to improve protection efforts as well as build trust between host communities and the Mission. Her efforts also contributed to an increase in  gender-aggregated data so that issues raised by local women and girls would gain appropriate attention.

Advocating for gender parity and womens’ participation in an environment where they are traditionally excluded from decision-making, she encouraged local civilian and military authorities and community representatives to involve both men and women in meetings with the UN. Her diligence and diplomatic skills quickly gained her the trust of local military commanders who would systematically reach out to her on issues pertaining to women’s protection and rights. During her patrols and numerous community engagement initiatives, Major Zharare also successfully encouraged men and women to work together in farming and in the construction of dikes around Bentiu town to alleviate food shortages and prevent further displacement.

Major Zharare is the first Zimbabwean peacekeeper to receive this prestigious award.

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‘New dawn’ for Europe as War in Ukraine Strengthens EU and Support for Enlargement

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The European Union surprised the world, and even itself, with the speed, scale and unity of its response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. This “new” Europe is ready to project both soft and hard power on the world stage, European leaders told participants at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2022.

Christine Lagarde, President, European Central Bank, on the panel at the session, European Unity in a Disordered World?, said the Ukraine war has revealed how powerful Europe is collectively: “This is a new dawn for Europe.”

The war on Ukraine has also revealed weaknesses – including global supply chain vulnerabilities and over-reliance on Russian energy, she said, but Europe is addressing this and can begin to flex its muscles on the global stage. “Europe has untapped purchasing power, trading power, technology power, pension power and moral power.”

Roberta Metsola, President of the European Parliament, reinforced the point. “This is Europe’s moment,” she said. “Europe can become the global project for peace.”

Mistakes of the past will be rectified, she said. “For way too long we did not seriously consider an energy union where we can rely on each other rather than on a country that can switch us off at any time.”

Referring to the EU’s support and defence of Ukraine, she was emphatic: “This is not the time to talk about face-saving for Russia or appeasement.”

Eduard Heger, Prime Minister of Slovakia, also on the panel, said: “If Ukraine falls to Russian aggression, Slovakia is next.” He added that we must continue to provide military support as well as step up humanitarian aid. “Above all we need to give Ukrainians hope.”

“Let’s not compromise – we must remain faithful to the values of the EU – freedom, rule of law, human dignity and equal rights.”

Micheál Martin, Taoiseach of Ireland, said of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine: “The people of Europe have spoken. Enough is enough.” In response there is much stronger unanimity between member states and more support than ever to accept the accession of new members.

He continued: “We see the EU’s future in terms of the green economy and in terms of the digitalization but also in terms of enlargement.”

Mark Rutte, Prime Minister of the Netherlands, called on European member states to continue to raise their defence spending. “The NATO alliance members are inseparable, but Europe must play its part,” he said. “This will help transform Europe from a soft power to a hard power.”

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