Women’s and mother role in Tanzania


Together for more Girlpower! The female role in Tanzania

In Tanzanian society the role of women is very conservative and patriarchal. The man is the undisputed head of the family and directs the fate of the individual family members. Also his wife is subordinated to him, although she takes over many duties. In the African tribe of Massai, for example, the woman carries the burdens of everyday life. She takes care of the children, cooks, collects firewood and milks the animals. The construction of the hut and the supply of water also falls within the woman’s sphere of responsibility. They often have to walk to distant water points.

Difficult access to education for girls

The foundation stone for this subordinate role is already laid in childhood, when boys are clearly preferred. If there is not enough money to send all children to the (private) school, the choice falls on the boy of the family. If a girl becomes pregnant during school time, she will be excluded from school. Since they are not allowed to resume school education, they are denied the most basic building block for a self-determined future.

If girls become unintentionally pregnant, they usually have only their families to support them. Many, however, no longer have a family or are rejected. Overburdened with the situation of a single parent, some young mothers leave their children behind. Also some children in the Hope Home share this fate.

Forced marriage and violence against women

Today, genital mutilation is still a big topic in Tanzania. Although genital mutilation has been officially banned since 1998, it is still widespread in some African tribes. Sarah and Joseph were able to save four girls from the Masai tribe from this painful procedure and give them a safe home in Hope Home. Female genital mutilation is used for the following reasons, among others:

  • tradition and faith
  • transition of children into adulthood
  • Preparation for marriage and maternity

Especially young women from poorer families are often forced to marry as soon as they become sexually mature. The bride’s family receives a bride price for her daughter, for example in the form of several goats or cattle. Two girls in the Hope Home were also on the verge of a forced marriage before finding refuge in the Hope Home. In the marriage – regardless of whether it was entered voluntarily or not – there is also frequent violence against women by the husbands, sometimes even rape.

Possibilities to escape

In order to improve the position of women in Tanzania, the women’s organisation UWT (Vereinigte Frauen Tanzanias) has existed since 1962. Education and health programmes are designed to promote women. In addition, women are to be considered in the further economic, political and cultural development of the country.


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