Tanzania is one of the best performing economies in East Africa in recent years, which is reflected in improved human development. However, inequalities – including gender inequalities – persist. This report maps evidence for economic exclusion of women in Tanzania. The main source of data used is the 2014 Integrated Labour Force Survey (ILFS), the most recent to be conducted. The review also draws on grey literature, notably reports by international development partners. The United Republic of Tanzania comprises Tanzania Mainland and the semi-autonomous area of Zanzibar: all the literature found related to Tanzania Mainland. Since this accounts for the overwhelming majority of the population, the data can be considered representative of the country.
Based on the literature it can be concluded that there are significant gender lags in both economic participation and income: women are ending up with low-wage, low quality, insecure work. The majority of women work in agriculture, but mostly as unpaid helpers; they earn less than men and few hold land rights. Women in all areas (rural and urban) and at all education levels have lower labour participation rates than men: indeed, with a university education, the gender gap widens.
The key findings are as follow:
- Tanzania is experiencing sustained strong economic growth: Economic growth over the last decade averaged 6-7%: in the first two quarters of 2017 it averaged 6.8% and was estimated at 6.5% for the full year.4 Construction, mining, transport, and communications were key growth drivers in 2017. Growth is projected to remain robust at 6.7% in 2018 and 6.9% in 2019, representing one of the best performances in East Africa.
- Poverty levels and human development indicators have improved, but inequalities remain: Poverty has declined since 2007 and continues at a modest pace, with a fall in the poverty rate from 28.2% in 2012 to 26.9% in 2016.6 Geographical disparities persist: as of 2016 over 13 million people (out of a total of 55 million) remained below the poverty line, the majority of them in rural areas. Between 1990 and 2015 Tanzania’s human development index (HDI) value rose from 0.370 to 0.531, an increase of 43.4% (UNDP, 2016: 2). However, when discounted for inequality, this falls to 0.396, a loss of 25.4%. Tanzania’s gender development index (GDI) value is 0.937, while its gender inequality index (GII)7 value is 0.544, ranking it 129 out of 159 countries (UNDP, 2016: 6).
- Females in Tanzania form a larger share of the working-age population, but a smaller share of the economically active population: Women account for 52% of the working-age population (15 years and over), but the labour force participation rate is higher among males (89.4%) than among females (84.2%). Women thus constitute a greater proportion of the economically inactive population: of the 13.3% of the population in this category, 8.2% are women and 5.1% men. The gender gap in labour force participation increases with rising education level.
- Women comprise 2.1 million out of the 3.4 million people not in the labour force. While the reason for being economically inactive cited by over half of males (55.7%) was schooling, 28.7% females gave that reason, and 20.3% cited household chores/taking care of those in need.
- Unemployment rates among females are higher than those of males in all areas, but particularly in the capital Dar es Salaam. Underemployment is comparable among males and females but is far higher in rural than urban areas (the majority of women are in rural employment).
- Agriculture accounts for the largest share of employment in Tanzania: a greater proportion of women than men (69.9% vs. 64.0%) work in agriculture. Unpaid family helpers constitute 34.5% of those employed in agriculture – there are more than twice as many females as males in this category. There are significant gender gaps in own farming with far fewer women landholders, having smaller plot sizes, employing fewer people and farming more for subsistence rather than income generation as compared to male landholders.
- Males are more likely than females to be employed in formal sectors, including government service – implying that females are more likely to be engaged in employment with less income and less security. Females in employment are significantly more vulnerable than males (88.7% vs. 78.2%). The share of males in senior and middle management occupations is 82.6% compared to 17.4% for females.
- Women-owned enterprises (WOEs) increased from 35% in the early 1990s to 54.3% in 2012, but over 99% of these were micro-enterprises with fewer than five employees, and almost three-quarters having only one employee (Mori, 2014: 1). Most WOEs in Tanzania are concentrated in informal, micro, low growth, and low-profit activities.
- There is a big gender gap in mean monthly income: TZS 278,748 for males compared to TZS 165,920 for females. Even in agriculture, female mean monthly income is almost half that of males.
- Women face discrimination in the labour market, in terms of wages, promotions and legal protections and face harassment in the workplace.