Tanzania: Ambassador Amina’s Advice to Women in Leadership

LEADERSHIP is a calling and expectations on a leader are always high.

Leadership abilities and personal values require time and experience to build. They have to be nurtured. The same applies to women in leadership. They need to take an extra mile to be visionary leaders and to accept the call and trace women in the society who are in critical needs.

Let women in leadership remember the sacrifice and all the efforts of our mentors who supported us by being champions in creating new ideas and fight for the existing ideas and make them work. These are paraphrases from Ambassador Amina Salum Ali, comments in commemorating the International Women’s Day.

“This day as a land mark event for women in the world, it is high time to critically look back and evaluate women’s development, achievement, failures and the challenges,” said the renowned politician in Zanzibar. She said further that women in leadership must mentor young women who will be future leaders and be able to continue to touch women in the grassroot instead of creating followers.

In an interview with the ‘Daily News,’ Ambassador Amina mentioned the critical challenges still facing women in Tanzania as poverty, limited opportunities for advancement, weak social structures to support each other and lack of support from women leaders in different level.

“Poverty still rides high although it’s better now due to initiatives by both governments and civil societies,” she said adding that economic inclusion for women is needed to be critically evaluated and addressed. She says that research shows women still lag behind in financial inclusion in-terms of access to funding, financial education, mindset change training needed, and awareness for opportunities to be exploited.

Business and trade facilitation for women and building knowledge on how the business working, to know business environment, and new methods/ technique in doing business are other areas of support a women requires, says Amina. The former Zanzibar Finance and Planning Minister said another challenge that confronts women was the gender stereo-type.

She observed that women leaders were just extraordinary for being able to balance the roles of mothers, wives and career woman. She said the government was responsible to create an enabling environment to support women development.

“So far we have good institutional foundation. The challenges still remain in reducing some bottlenecks that only government can do,” she says. For example in the financial sector government has to take actions on some of the recommendation in creating and facilitating women inclusion in the financial services, she said.

Most of the ongoing programmes need to be reviewed and create an environment that would enable women to access financial services at affordable cost.

The government should continue to review policies and laws to enable women and provide incentive for women to do business and investment by providing access to technology by training and new equipment, mentoring, internship and skills development along with promoting and enabling young women to be self-employed.

“University degree should enable young women to have their own business and employ others. NGOs are helping vehicles to work with governments to support women initiatives. They are doing a lot but time for them to scale up their activities and look for new initiatives that will focus on building capacity.”

Recalling some of the challenges she faced while in leadership, Ms Amina said the most challenging work was when she was the Zanzibar Minister of Finance and Planning because of people’s great expectation. “When you are a woman and young below 35 years and the country faces a number of economic challenges, it was tough and challenging,” she recalled.

“We survived and as government we continued to strengthen the economic backbone of Zanzibar of today. History written in a solid foundation, but I am grateful to my (former) president Dr Salmin Amour he saw my potential. While this year’s Women’s Day International theme was ‘Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a Covid-19 world,’ the national (Zanzibar’s) theme was “Change mindset, promote women participation in decision making for sustainable development.”

Ms Nasima Choum- Director for Women Development Department in the Ministry of Health, Social welfare, Elders, Gender, and Children says this year’s theme was well placed as both themes aim at leaving no woman behind, and calling for concerted effort in achieving the goals.