In Tanzania, liberalisation and de-agrarianisation have led to unequal growth; stagnating and in some cases increasing poverty; fragmented landholdings; and a rise in the cost of essentials. Local user costs also continue to cripple local populations, despite the government?s commitment to eradicating these.
Meanwhile, traditional gendered roles in rural households have changed, with longer-term de-masculinisation and corresponding feminisation of responsibility for family provisioning – both within marriage (contingent on a rise in male underemployment, despair and alcoholism) and through a rise in divorce, widowhood and single motherhood.
Women have been empowered particularly by their membership in female credit networks. In response, some men assault this freedom by marrying second wives, spending more money and time outside the home, labelling women prostitutes and perpetrating physical abuse. These issues have contributed to the rise in the number of female-headed households.
Widowed and divorced women are exposed to customary stripping of assets by husbands or husband?s kin. Women?s statutory rights under land and marriage legislation are not enforced. Traditional support has also fallen, leaving women deprived of the means to support children?s nutritional and educational needs in a time of rising costs, which may perpetuate intergenerational poverty in the coming decade.
We suggest further linking small female credit networks to cooperatives so they can access more capital; reworking and enforcing legislation; acknowledging women?s role as key providers; and establishing gender-sensitive employment guarantee schemes, in part to help poor rural men emerge from poverty traps so they can contribute to the family provisioning.
da Corta, L.; Magongo, J. Evolution of gender and poverty dynamics in Tanzania. CPRC Working Paper 203. Chronic Poverty Research Centre, London, UK (2011) 65 pp. ISBN 978-1-908536-01-3