UN Women commemorates March 8 in Tanzania


Zanzibar, 9 March 2021 (TDI): The regional director for East and Southern Africa of UN Women, Maxime Houinato; joined the President of Tanzania, Samia Suluhu Hassan for the commemoration of March 8.

March 8 is International Women’s Day, and the commemoration took place in Zanzibar. Houinato stated that during this day, the world celebrates women and makes a call for attention regarding the urgent need to accelerate progress towards gender equality.


Another country representative of UN Women, Hodan Addou, was also present in the commemoration and gave an interview. In the interview; Addou provided details of the work that UN Women has done to support Tanzania in the implementation of SDG 5 which is on Gender Equality.

According to Addou, UN Women works to support Tanzania through policies, legal reforms, and indirect programming in interventions aimed to empower women. She then added that the organization has programs like women’s political participation.

This program is to ensure that women have an active role in decision-making, and engage in policy reforms and decisions. Other programs of the UN Women include public and private sectors to increase the number of women in leadership positions.

She also remarked that the UN Women is supporting the economic environment of women, particularly farmers; entrepreneurs, by looking at opportunities in employment and entrepreneurship.

Addou also mentioned that the organization is looking at barriers for women to access those opportunities; like access to land and information. Addou guaranteed that all of these actions fall in line with the priorities of the government, to ensure that women are lifted out of poverty.


She stated that another priority of UN Women is to eliminate all kinds of violence against women. To achieve this goal, Addou explained different actions of the organizations, like the training of the police force; and strengthening the judiciary system.

Addou then added that most of their efforts are in the issues of prevention. She also remarked that the organization is looking at social norms and practices that are driving gender-based violence and inequality. According to Addou, for a woman to feel safe to engage in public life, they need to feel safe in every aspect of their life.

UN Women is also involved in the support to the government with data, to track the progress of their commitments; among other contributions of the organization to Tanzania.


The history of March 8 as International Women’s Day began in 1875. During this year; hundreds of women in New York organized a manifestation against the low wages that they received in the textile factory all of them worked for. The manifestation was to raise conscience that they received less than half of what men did for the same amount of time and job.

The result was the death of 120 women due to police brutality. The textile industry had another tragic incident in store for women when in 1911; a factory had a fire that caused the death of 146 working women.

Most of them died trying to escape and some decided to commit suicide. None of them were able to escape because the owners of the factory sealed all the doors to prevent employees from stealing.

After this, the movement spread to other countries and would later finish the expansion around the world. Several countries declared the day as a national day and began celebrating it, like the former Soviet Union, Spain, and the US.

It was 100 years after the first sad incident that the UN declared it as a global day. Two years later the General Assembly adopted a resolution that proclaimed March 8 as a UN Day for Women’s rights; that stated that the members should observe it every year.

Tanzanian women assisted to the celebrations of March 8 in Zanzibar, Tanzania
Tanzanian women assisted to the celebrations of March 8 in Zanzibar

The idea of UN Women to celebrate March 8 this year was the theme of Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow. This was to include a call to action for women, by women regarding the climate change emergency in the community.


Women in Tanzania constitute 51.9% of the total population. Out of the population, 12 million people live below the poverty line and many of those are women. Ensure gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls is one of the key strategies that the government has to achieve sustainable development.

Furthermore, to achieve this, the government ordered a review of the National Gender Policy in the Mainland; and the Gender Policy of Zanzibar. This is to reflect the commitment of the country towards several frameworks like the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action; the UN Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW); Commission on the Status of Women (CSW); the African Union Gender Policy and Action Plan.

Moreover, thanks to the political reforms, 19% of women had cabinet positions, and 36.8% occupied parliamentary seats in 2018.  The government and also development partners continue to develop an enabling environment through law and policy reforms; to address the pressing challenges to reach gender equality.