International Women’s Day

Womens Day celebrations champion changing mindsets in Tanzania

Date: Monday, March 25, 2019

Minister Ummy Mwalimu, the UN Women Rep, Hodan Addou and the Swedish Ambassador, Anders Sjoberg share a lighter moment with some of the women manufacturing handbags displayed at one of the booths at an exhibition in Mwanza. UN Women/ Tsitsi Matope.

Minister Ummy Mwalimu, the UN Women Rep, Hodan Addou and the Swedish Ambassador, Anders Sjoberg share a lighter moment with some of the women manufacturing handbags displayed at one of the booths at an exhibition in Mwanza. UN Women/ Tsitsi Matope.


This year Tanzania added a new flavor to the International Women’s Day commemorations. For the East African country, it was a whole eight-days of celebrating women across all regions with a local theme: Change Mindset to Achieve Equality for Sustainable Development (Badili Fikra Kufikia Usawa Kijinsia Kwa Maendeleo Endelevu). The theme was a driving force behind all events.

Some actors made the commemorations memorable with women engineers sharing their experiences on how they were breaking the barriers in the male-dominated sector, during a conference organized by the Women Engineers Chapter in Dar es Salaam.

 It was an exciting time, and in particular for women in business who went all out to showcase their products and to share how they were keeping their enterprises afloat.

 In regions including the capital Dodoma, Zanzibar, Arusha and Kigoma, women and girls marched for recognition as equal partners in development and for the respect of their rights to enjoy a life free from violence.

Women in businesses such as the food and drink manufacturing, shined and proudly shared some eats and drinks with the participants at various regional exhibitions.

Mwanza, which is situated in the North Western part of Tanzania was a hive of activities. At an exhibition centre, women displayed food items, crafts, batik materials, bags, clothes, spices, organic honey and many other products for all people to appreciate how they were contributing to economic growth in the country.

 The beautiful Mwanza is home to Lake Victoria, a vast water resource shared by Tanzania and Uganda. The region also boasts of its best fish and therefore it was not a surprise that a significant number of women were leading in the fish business.

One of the women-led enterprises that impressed the delegates was the Wanawake Wavuvi Maendelelo Nyamagana. Not only does the group sell the best fish in and outside Mwanza region, they are also innovative in making sure that they produced other products from the fish. Recently, they started making products such as chicken feed from grounded dry fish skin and bones. They are marketing this healthy poultry feed through online advertising to attract clients across the country and in the neighbouring countries.

In Mwanza, there were other women who also demonstrated the great spirit of innovation through food processing. One such woman was Ms Anchila Petro who attracted the crowd with her home-brewed red Rosela wine. The Managing Director of Kikundi Cha Upendo-Nyamatala Wineries decided in 2014 to process into red wine the Rosela plant she grew on her farm. After learning how to produce the wine, she humbly started her business at her home in 2015, producing only 50 litres per month. Today, Ms Anchila produces up to 200 litres of good red wine each month. She brought along some extra bottles to share with some wine lovers during the International Women’s Day commemoration. After the testing session, she managed to sell all the 60 bottles on display.

“This business is good despite some challenges in getting some of the products we need for packaging. Currently, I am working on moving the business from my home to a factory, which is under construction,” Ms Petro said.

She is one of the business women who last year received grant support from the government to expand their businesses in Mwanza.

The Minister of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, Ms Ummy Mwalimu graced the commemorations held in Bujora in Mwanza. Also present were representatives from the European Union in Tanzania; the Swedish Ambassador, Anders Sjoberg; the UN resident Coordinator, Mr Alvaro Rodriguez; the UN Women Representative, Ms Hodan Addou; government officials; and civil society representatives. The delegates interacted with the business women, viewed their products and helped them to understand their experiences. 

In her speech, Minister Mwalimu emphasized the need for increased support to women in business to enable expansion of their enterprises, which will in turn contribute to employment creation. The Ministry has since elevated to Policy level, the Women Development Fund to ensure they implement a new innovative way of providing support to women businesses for growth.

Speaking on behalf of the UN Women Executive Director, Dr Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, the UN Women Country Representative, Ms Hodan Addou congratulated women for their innovative approaches in business throughout the country. She said there was need for deliberate actions focusing on the use of innovations to enable positive impact on the lives of women and girls. She explained this was important at a time when innovation was shaping and changing the way people live globally.

“Women and girls should not only be consumers of innovation but also become innovators. Through their engagement, both in design and execution of solutions, they can address their unique needs. These range from the creation of decent work to delivery of products, services and infrastructure for all women,” Ms Addou said.