1. Results of the SIGI Tanzania

Discriminatory social institutions – formal and informal laws, social norms and practices that restrict women’s and girls’ access to rights, justice and empowerment opportunities – are at the heart of the inequalities faced by women and girls. Social institutions delineate legally and socially acceptable ways to think, do, express or act in relation to gender. When these social institutions discriminate against women and girls, they establish multiple structural barriers which span and affect the course of their lives. For instance, discriminatory laws permitting child marriage can affect girls’ level of education, health and economic empowerment; discriminatory attitudes condoning intimate partner violence (IPV) promote its continued practice; and discriminatory practices may hinder women’s access to and ownership of productive resources, including agricultural land. Discriminatory social institutions also function as the root causes of more visible forms of inequality such as women’s lower enrolment in tertiary education, differences in revenue between men and women, women’s concentration in jobs of lower status, and unbalanced political representation based on sex.

Since 2009, the Development Centre of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has measured discrimination in social institutions globally through the Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI). In 2019, Tanzania ranked 103rd out of the 120 countries classified by the SIGI, highlighting the existence of deeply entrenched barriers that hamper gender equality in the country (OECD, 2019[1]). However, this analysis, which allows for comparison among countries, remains limited in terms of the identification of issues at the sub-national level.

To this end, the SIGI Country Report for Tanzania aims to measure discriminatory social institutions, in particular attitudes and social practices that constrain women’s empowerment in Tanzania at the sub-national level. By providing policy makers with concrete and actionable recommendations to eliminate these discriminatory social institutions, this country report seeks to improve the rights and well-being of women and girls in Tanzania and to advance gender equality. The SIGI Country Report for Tanzania employs a holistic approach consisting of a household survey that is statistically representative at both national and regional levels and a qualitative study involving focus group discussions and key informant interviews (see Annex B). Based on the quantitative data collected through the household survey, the OECD Development Centre developed a composite index (hereafter the ‘SIGI Tanzania’), which builds on a dedicated conceptual framework. This conceptual framework incorporates the specificities of the country and aims to capture discrimination faced by women and girls at both national and regional levels (see Annex A for more details of the conceptual framework).

The SIGI Tanzania’s conceptual framework contains 17 indicators grouped into four dimensions that measure how attitudes and practices create gaps between women and men in terms of opportunities and outcomes. The design of the conceptual framework seeks to span major socio-economic areas that affect the entire lifetimes of women and girls:

  • The “Discrimination in the family” (DF) dimension captures social institutions that limit women’s decision-making power and undervalues their status in the household and the family spheres.

  • The “Restricted physical integrity” (RPI) dimension captures social institutions that increase women’s and girls’ vulnerability to a range of forms of violence and limit women’s control over their bodies and reproductive autonomy.

  • The “Restricted access to productive and financial resources” (RAPFR) dimension captures women’s restricted access to and control over critical productive and economic resources and assets.

  • The “Restricted civil liberties” (RCL) dimension captures discriminatory laws and practices restricting women’s access, participation and voice in the public and social spheres.

Since 2000, Tanzania has made strides towards gender equality illustrated by the strong commitments and legal reforms implemented by the country’s government. The Tanzanian Constitution (1977), amended in 2005, obliges the government and its entities to “accord equal opportunities to all citizens, men and women alike without regard for their colour, tribe, religion or station in life”, and to eradicate “all forms of injustice, intimidation, discrimination” and more (Article 9). The country’s commitment to providing equal rights and eliminating discrimination is enshrined in numerous policy frameworks (Box 1.1). Moreover, recent legal revisions have paved the way for greater gender equality. For instance, in order to strengthen the response to gender-based violence against women and girls, Tanzania enacted Evidence Act 6/2016, Penal Act 6/2018, Legal Aid Act 13/2018 and Criminal Procedure Act 7/2018, while in Zanzibar the Kadhi’s Court Act 9/2017 became law (Government of Tanzania, 2019[2]) (see Chapter 4). Furthermore, the Employment and Labour Relations Act of 2004 stipulates that “every employer shall take positive steps to guarantee equal remuneration for men and women for work of equal value” (Article 7), outlines harassment as a form of discrimination (Article 7), establishes pregnancy as unfair grounds for termination (Article 37) and institutes paid paternity leave period of three days (Article 34) (Government of Tanzania, 2004[3]).

However, persistent gaps and challenges remain in key areas affecting women’s and girls’ rights. These stem from the presence of deeply entrenched discrimination, which prevents the country from achieving full and unhindered gender equality. They also represent a key impediment to the country’s development and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) by Tanzania. In terms of outcomes, Tanzania still has a long way to go to achieve gender equality. For instance, in 2019, Tanzania scored 63% on the African Gender Index (AGI), developed by the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA).2 This means that women in Tanzania benefit from only two-thirds of the opportunities available to men (AfDB and UNECA, 2020[9]). At the global level, the Gender Inequality Index of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), which includes measures of inequalities between men and women in terms of educational level or labour force participation rate, ranked Tanzania 140th out of 162 countries in 2020 (United Nations Development Programme, 2020[10]).3

Against this backdrop, the results from the SIGI Tanzania show that women and girls in Tanzania continue to face significant levels of discrimination in social institutions. The results show that discrimination in social institutions is more acute in Zanzibar, which obtains a score of 44, than in Mainland Tanzania, which obtains a score of 35.4 Likewise, discrimination in social institutions faced by women and girls is more acute in rural areas (38) than in urban areas (32).

Wide variations exist at the sub-national level, indicating that discriminatory social institutions are particularly entrenched in certain regions, while substantial progress has been made in others (Figure 1.1). Overall, nearly 2.5 million women aged 15 years and older live in regions that obtain SIGI scores above 45, and an additional 2.2 million live in places where scores range from 40 to 45. Out of 31 regions, only one region – Ruvuma – displays a score below 30. Conversely, Kusini Pemba obtains a score of 49 denoting the highest level of discrimination in the country. These scores reflect a high degree of variation in discrimination among social institutions from one region to another. They also reveal specific, persistent and sticky discriminatory social norms and practices in certain areas. This variation should have a strong impact on the design of policies. Evidence that certain discriminatory social norms and practices are more salient in some regions also sheds light on the need for tailored programmes and policies with a particular focus on regions and issues where discrimination is highest.

The results of the SIGI Tanzania find the highest level of discrimination in the “Discrimination in the family” and the “Restricted civil liberties” dimensions. Scores in these two dimensions are the highest across all regions of Tanzania, except for Manyara and Mbeya, where the highest scores are found in the “Restricted physical integrity” dimension. Across the country, 16 regions obtained their highest score in the “Discrimination in the family” dimension, while 13 obtained their highest score in the “Restricted civil liberties” dimension. Scores for discrimination in the “Restricted physical integrity” dimension were more uniform across the country, whereas discrimination faced by women and girls in the “Restricted access to productive and financial resources” dimension appears more pervasive in Zanzibar and rural areas (Figure 1.2).

More importantly, the results obtained for the 17 indicators of the conceptual framework highlight several key issues faced by women and girls in the country, which need to be addressed by policy makers. At the national level, several key indicators exhibit significant levels of discrimination primarily concentrated around intra-household dynamics – including women’s disproportionate unpaid care and domestic work burden and ability to make decisions, women’s physical autonomy – including violence against women and women’s ability to make independent reproductive choices, and women’s freedom to move in the public space. The results from the SIGI Tanzania at indicator level also uncover important variations at the sub-national level. For instance, discrimination against women and girls is found to be more acute in rural than urban areas for the indicators “Child marriage”, “Access to financial services” and “Access to labour market”. Likewise, levels of discrimination are higher in Zanzibar than in Mainland Tanzania for the indicators “Inheritance”, “Access to agricultural land”, “Access to houses”, “Access to financial services” and “Freedom of movement” (Table 1.1).

All the discriminatory social institutions faced by women and girls in Tanzania, as measured by the 17 indicators of the SIGI Tanzania framework, matter to their empowerment. Yet, in a context of limited resources and urgency to address the issues women face, the results of the SIGI Tanzania enable the government to prioritise policy actions by focusing on key issues that stand out. The SIGI Tanzania results combined with insights from the qualitative survey and consultations with local stakeholders have led to the identification of nine indicators that call for particular and urgent attention from policy makers (Figure 1.3). For example, “Bride price”, “Reproductive autonomy” – which includes access to contraception and women’s ability to make decisions over their own body – and “Freedom of movement” were identified as particularly problematic. Given their low regional variance, these issues are likely to be present throughout the country. Other indicators, such as “Child marriage”, were included because they constitute a key objective of Tanzania’s gender policy and were identified as an important issue by the members of the SIGI Tanzania Technical Advisory Group.5 Given the importance of agriculture in Tanzania’s economy and the role of agricultural land for economic empowerment, some indicators, such as “Access to agricultural land” were included.

Although not specifically analysed in Chapter 1, the other indicators of the SIGI Tanzania framework are no less important to women’s empowerment and improved gender equality, also because they interact closely with each other. For instance, discriminatory inheritance practices, which are particularly prevalent in Zanzibar, have a profound bearing on women’s ability to acquire land (see Chapter 2). Likewise, deeply entrenched views on the role of women and men in the household largely determine how women access the labour market, with consequences ranging from the sectors in which they may work to the status of employment they hold (see Chapter 2). Meanwhile, female genital mutilation remains a deeply concerning form of violence against women in certain specific regions of Tanzania with potentially severe implications for women’s health and well-being (see Chapter 4).

The issues measured by the SIGI Tanzania have numerous negative spillover effects that further compound the barriers that women and girls face. For instance, the combination of discriminatory inheritance practices and traditional power structures governing the use and control of land further restrict women’s access to productive assets and capital. This limited access, in turn, constrains women’s ability to provide collateral when seeking a loan, which may further curb their ability to start a business. These limitations may also have further downstream negative implications for women. For instance, women’s lack of financial independence and control over resources may impede victims of intimate partner violence (IPV) from leaving a violent household. These issues are fundamental to women’s empowerment and are profoundly intertwined. Addressing them in a holistic manner is therefore a pre-requisite to achieving gender equality.

All these limitations not only negatively affect women but also have long-term effects for society as a whole. For instance, girl child marriage is a discriminatory practice with long-term and profound effects not only on women’s human capital and women themselves, but also on society and economic growth (Mitra et al., 2020[12]). Likewise, social norms and traditional gender roles that confine women to unpaid care and reproductive roles in the household have a profound impact on their ability to seek work outside the household and become financially independent, which may limit economic growth as a whole (Ferrant, Pesando and Nowacka, 2014[13]).

The following section covers nine indicators that the results of the SIGI Tanzania identify as critical. It aims to provide a succinct but comprehensive overview of the main issues faced by women and girls in Tanzania as well as the underlying discriminatory social norms and attitudes that support them. Scores at the national and sub-national levels are presented for each indicator, followed by key results and data related to discriminatory practices and attitudes.

The “Child marriage” indicator captures discrimination in terms of the share of women aged between 20 and 24 years who have been married, divorced or widowed before the age of 18 years. It also captures discriminatory attitudes in terms of the share of the population who endorse marriage for girls under the age of 18 years. Girl child marriage has far-reaching consequences on many key dimensions of women’s and girls’ empowerment. In particular, it has an impact on girls’ health, notably through adolescent pregnancies and increased risks of maternal mortality, morbidity and infant mortality, and it is associated with lower educational attainment – especially at the secondary school level. This, in turn, curbs women’s and girl’s empowerment, their decision-making power, their financial independence, as well as their ability to contribute to the socioeconomic development of their households, communities and, hence, society as a whole. Results for this indicator vary widely across Tanzania’s 31 regions and between rural and urban areas. The scores show that discrimination is significantly more acute in rural areas with a score of 24, than in urban areas where the score is 7. Across the country, results range from a score of 3 in the regions of Dar es Salaam and Iringa, to a score of 43 in Simiyu.

Data show that girl child marriage is a serious problem in Tanzania with high prevalence rates concentrated in certain regions and rural areas. In 2021, 16% of Tanzania’s women aged between 20 and 24 years had been married, divorced or widowed before the age of 18 years. In 2019, data from the global SIGI estimated that girl child marriage stood at 24% in East Africa and 23% in Africa (OECD Development Centre/OECD, 2019[14]). In contrast, only 2% of men aged 20 to 24 years were in the same situation (Figure 1.4, Panel A). However, these averages conceal wide variation across regions. In rural areas, the girl child marriage rate reaches 24% compared to 3% in urban areas. Moreover, in four regions – Mara, Morogoro, Shinyanga and Simiyu – the girl child marriage rate is above 30%. When looking at all women, the data show that 19% of Tanzanian women aged 15 years and older have been or were married before the age of 18 years. These high rates of girl child marriage indicate that women in Tanzania tend to marry significantly younger than men – about five years earlier – regardless of where they live. The average age of marriage for women in the country is 20.2 years, compared to 25.4 years for men. Such spousal age differences can have an impact on power imbalances in the context of marriage promoting unequal decision-making power between men and women, and even IPV (see Chapter 4).

Girl child marriage is perpetuated by widespread social acceptance of the practice. A significant proportion of the population considers it appropriate for a woman to marry before the age of 18 years, with significant differences in attitudes regarding the appropriate age of marriage for men and for women. At the national level, 19% of Tanzanian consider that it is appropriate for a girl to marry under 18 years of age, a share rising to 24% in rural areas (Figure 1.4, Panel B). On average, individuals tend to consider 18 and a half years the minimum appropriate age for women to get married, compared to almost 22 years for men.

“Household responsibilities” is a composite indicator that measures the discrimination faced by women in Tanzania in terms of the unequal division of unpaid care and domestic work and gender roles within the household. The indicator looks at differences between women and men in terms of time spent on a set of care and domestic tasks.6 With regard to attitudes, the indicator assesses the extent to which the population believes that certain care and household tasks should be the exclusive responsibility of women.

In Tanzania, women spend more time on unpaid care and domestic work than men. At the national level, women spend on average 3.1 times more time on unpaid care and domestic tasks than men – while men spend on average 1.4 hours per day on unpaid care and domestic tasks, women dedicate 4.4 hours per day to unpaid care and domestic tasks. This ratio is close to the global average of 3.2 as measured by the global SIGI in 2019 (OECD Development Centre/OECD, 2019[14]). The women-to-men ratio is similar across both urban (3.3) and rural (3.1) areas as well as across Mainland Tanzania (3.1) and Zanzibar (3.5). Nevertheless, some regions such as Mara or Simiyu exhibit much smaller ratios where the women-to-men ratio of time spent on unpaid care and domestic work hovers around 1.5. Conversely, women spend about 10 times more time on unpaid care and domestic work than men in Kusini Pemba and Shinyanga.

Women face a double burden as they carry out significantly more unpaid care and domestic work than men and also undertake a large amount of paid work. In addition to the disproportionate share of unpaid care and domestic work shouldered by women, they also undertake a large amount of paid work across all regions and areas. On average, at the national level, women in the labour force work 5 hours per day compared to 6 hours for men. As a result, women bear a significantly larger share of the total workload, spending, on average, a total of 9.4 hours a day on paid and unpaid work compared to 7.4 hours for men. The situation differs slightly between Mainland Tanzania and Zanzibar. In Zanzibar, although women also spend 5 hours a day on paid work, the large amount of time that men spend on paid work results in a similar total workload for both men and women (Figure 1.5).

Imbalances between men and women in terms of time spent on unpaid care and domestic work are particularly large for tasks related to the care of children or basic household duties such as cleaning and cooking. At the national level, women spend, on average, around seven times more time than men on feeding the children or giving them their baths as well as on cooking for the household – a central, time-consuming and basic household activity. In a context of large informal employment in the agricultural sector, and the absence of a strong social protection system providing support through subsidised childcare facilities, the care for children massively falls on women’s shoulders. Similarly, they spend about four times more time cleaning the household as well as the bathroom or toilets than men. Conversely, the only unpaid task on which men spend more time than women is repairing the house (Figure 1.6). This distribution pattern is similar across both rural and urban areas as well as Zanzibar and Mainland Tanzania, while differences are not significant.

High levels of discrimination in the “Household responsibilities” indicator reflect significant discriminatory attitudes towards the distribution of labour within the household and gender task associations. Measures of opinions regarding whether a task is considered solely a woman’s responsibility, a shared responsibility or solely a man’s responsibility show that a large majority of the population consider certain routine household tasks to be the exclusive responsibility of women. These opinions reflect norms of restrictive masculinities that uphold unpaid care and domestic work as the domain of women and stigmatise men’s active participation at home (OECD, 2021[15]). More than 60% of the population considers cooking for the household, cleaning the household, cleaning the bathroom/toilet and washing clothes as women’s exclusive responsibilities (Figure 1.7). At the same time, less than 1% of the population declared that these tasks are the sole responsibility of men. Norms that ascribe gendered associations to these tasks appear slightly more salient in rural than urban areas. In the former, the share of the population declaring that these household tasks are the exclusive responsibility of women is higher than in the latter.

Bride price refers to the payment made by the groom or his family to the bride’s family at the time of marriage – in the form of money, property or valuable assets. It is an essential element in marital arrangements in all sub-Saharan Africa, and particularly in East Africa (Anderson, 2007[16]). Given its transactional nature, bride price tends to “commodify” women, raising questions about ownership. Bride price may therefore have severe implications for the level of discrimination faced by women, not only at the time of their marriage but also throughout their lifetime – affecting their status and role in their marriage, their household and wider society (Anderson, Beaman and Platteau, 2018[17]). The “Bride price” indicator of the SIGI Tanzania measures the proportion of married women whose marriage involved a bride price and population attitude regarding whether the payment of a bride price confers ownership of the bride on the husband. The score for the bride price indicator in Tanzania stands at 91. The scores do not vary significantly between urban and rural areas or across regions ranging from 83 in Njombe to 100 in Mjini Magharibi. However, Zanzibar obtains a significantly higher score compared to Mainland Tanzania, suggesting that the practice and acceptance of bride price are particularly elevated in the former.

Bride price is a dominant practice in Tanzania. At the national level, bride price has played a role in the marriages of 90% of married women. This is the case regardless of the woman’s age or her location – whether she lives in a rural or urban area, or in Zanzibar or Mainland Tanzania. In the large majority of cases (84%), the parents of the bride receive the payment, which is made either by the groom’s parents or by the groom himself.

Beyond social acceptance of the practice, a large share of the population believes that paying a bride price implies that the husband owns his wife. The practice of bride price is widely endorsed and supported by Tanzanian society, with 92% of the population of the opinion that a marriage requires a bride price (Figure 1.8, Panel A). Beyond social acceptance of bride price, the central issue is how bride price affects women’s status within their couple and/or household. In Tanzania, nearly three-quarters of the population agree that a man gains ownership of his wife by paying the bride price. Significantly more people living in rural than in urban areas, as well as in Mainland Tanzania than in Zanzibar, share these discriminatory attitudes (Figure 1.8, Panel B). Conversely, men and women are equally likely to hold attitudes which consider that a man who pays the bride price owns his wife. Underpinning these attitudes are strong norms of restrictive masculinities that promote men’s role as protectors and guardians of household members, and particularly the women in their family. These guardianship role of men implies women’s obedience (OECD, 2021[15]).

Unequal decision-making power within the household is an important source of discrimination against Tanzanian women. The “Decision-making power” composite indicator seeks to determine who takes important decisions for household members – including on children’s health and education – as well as basic consumption expenditure and investment in productive assets. The indicator also measures opinion regarding the man as sole decision maker in the home. Although no significant differences exist between rural and urban areas, or between Zanzibar and Mainland Tanzania, regional differences are more pronounced with the lowest score reported in Mbeya (34) and the highest in Katavi (66).

In the majority of Tanzanian households (60%), decisions regarding children’s health or education – regardless of the sex of the child – are taken together by both parents. However, in more than one-quarter of all households, the father takes such decisions alone, without consulting the mother (Figure 1.9, Panel A). This is particularly true for children’s education where fathers are frequently the main and sole decision maker. For instance, in 32% of rural households, the father is the sole decision maker on matters concerning children’s education and does not seek the opinion of the mother.

Decision-making power over spending and purchases is largely the purview of men. In Tanzanian households, men tend to be solely responsible for decisions relating to basic consumption spending on food and clothing as well as large and/or productive purchases such as a house, land, equipment or farming inputs. Specifically, 37% of Tanzania’s population identifies the male household head as the sole decision maker for basic purchases such as food or clothes. In the case of productive assets, more than 40% of the population identifies the male household head as having the last word on important decisions such as choosing farm inputs, buying or renting a house or purchasing transportation vehicles. Although no significant differences exist between Zanzibar and Mainland Tanzania, men are more often the sole decision maker in households in rural areas, where the share of households in which men occupy this role is significantly higher than in urban areas (Figure 1.9, Panel B).

Most Tanzanians hold the view that men should be ultimately responsible for important decisions in the home. While the majority believe that decisions concerning children’s education or health should be taken by both parents together rather than by either parent alone, more than 20% of the population take the view that fathers should be solely responsible for such decisions (Figure 1.10, Panel A). Furthermore, a large majority of Tanzania’s population (74%) agrees that men should have the final word in important decisions in the home – a proportion that is significantly higher in rural areas and Zanzibar than in urban areas and Mainland Tanzania. Discriminatory attitudes related to decision-making power within the household are also more acute for individuals with lower levels of education. While 79% of the population without any formal education believe that men should have the final word on important decisions in the home, this proportion falls to 65% among those with a completed secondary education, and to 56% among those with a university-level education. Important variations also exist across regions, ranging from 52% of the population in Ruvuma to 97% in Kaskazini Pemba (Figure 1.10, Panel B). These dominant and widespread discriminatory attitudes undermine women’s independence and status beyond the scope of pure household decisions, limiting their ability to exercise their own opinion in life-determining areas such as their own health or education, or their choice of job.

The “Violence against women” indicator measures discrimination against Tanzanian women in terms of their vulnerability and exposure to gender-based violence. The indicator looks at the share of ever-partnered women who have experienced IPV over the last 12 months as well as the proportion of women who have survived any kind of violence perpetrated by someone other than their partner during their lifetime. The indicator also measures the population’s opinion regarding whether a husband may be justified in hitting or beating his wife under certain circumstances – namely, burning the food, going out without telling him, neglecting the children or arguing with him. Tanzania scores 38 against this indicator. However, the results suggest that violence against women is a more acute problem in Mainland Tanzania, which scores 39, than in Zanzibar, which obtains a score of 25. In addition, wide variations exist across regions, ranging from a low level of discrimination in Kaskazini Unguja (11) to a high level in Mara (59).

Overall, more than half of all Tanzanian women have survived some form of violence at some point in their lives (Figure 1.11, Panel D). Taking into account both IPV and non-partner violence, the data show that 55% of Tanzanian women older than 15 years have survived violence at some point in their lives (Box 1.2). The level of violence is significantly higher in Mainland Tanzania, where 56% of women have survived some form of violence, than in Zanzibar, where the rate is 38%. Although men are less exposed to IPV throughout their lives, the rate of non-partner violence is higher, with 44% of Tanzanian men having survived some form of violence.

About half of women in Tanzania have survived IPV during their lifetime (48%), and one in four women has experienced IPV over the last 12 months (23%) (Figure 1.11, Panel A and B). In comparison, 36% and 33% of women have survived IPV during their lifetime in East Africa and Africa, respectively (OECD Development Centre/OECD, 2019[14]). The proportion in both cases is significantly higher for women living in rural areas than in urban settings, and for women in Mainland Tanzania rather than in Zanzibar. On average, women suffered primarily from psychological and emotional violence (e.g. humiliations or insults by their husband or partner) followed by physical and sexual violence (e.g. forced sexual intercourse) (Box 1.2). The share of women exposed to economic violence by an intimate partner (e.g. the partner or husband damaging or sabotaging a woman’s work) was smaller over the last 12 months.

Meanwhile, one in three women in Tanzania has survived non-partner violence during their lifetime (i.e. when the perpetrator was not their husband or a partner) (Figure 1.11, Panel C). Physical violence is the most frequent type of violence women experienced, followed by sexual harassment and sexual violence. In particular, the rate of non-partner violence is higher for women living in urban settings than in rural areas, a reversal of the trend identified for IPV. Very large variations exist across regions, with women’s rate of non-partner violence ranging from 4% in Lindi to 78% in Kaskazini Pemba. Importantly, men are equally exposed as women to non-partner violence. At the national level, 34% of men have experienced non-partner violence at least once in their lifetime compared to 30% of women.

Social acceptance of violence against women is widespread across the country. Half of Tanzania’s population agrees with the statement that a husband is justified in hitting or beating his wife if she burns food, goes out without telling him, neglects the children or argues with him. Acceptance of physical violence is highest in relation to women who argue with their husbands or neglect the children (Figure 1.12). Importantly – and perhaps counterintuitively – social acceptance of violence against women also tends to be higher among women than men; at the national level, a larger share of women than men consider that a husband is justified in hitting his wife given the abovementioned reasons. In addition, these discriminatory attitudes are significantly higher in rural areas than in urban settings, as well as in Mainland Tanzania than Zanzibar, where 50% and 29%, respectively, of the population agree that it is justifiable for a husband to hit or beat his wife under these circumstances.

Women’s reproductive autonomy refers to women’s ability to decide and control contraceptive use, pregnancy and childbearing. The indicator “Reproductive autonomy”, however, measures women’s unmet family planning needs in terms of the share of women with a partner or spouse who are not trying to have children but do not use contraception. The indicator also measures attitudes among the population regarding women’s right to use contraception, as well as attitudes towards abortion. Overall, Tanzania scores 53 for “Reproductive autonomy”, with Zanzibar (67) scoring higher than Mainland Tanzania (53). There is significant variation between regions with scores ranging from 43 in Mtwara to 77 and 78 in Kusini Pemba and Kaskazini Pemba, respectively.

More than one-third of Tanzania’s women of reproductive age – between 15 and 49 years old – report having an unmet need for family planning. In other words, 38% of women who are not trying to have a child with their partner are not using any contraceptive method to avoid or delay pregnancy. No differences were found for this rate between rural and urban areas, or between younger or older women. However, the share of women reporting unmet family planning needs is much higher in Zanzibar (56%) than in Mainland Tanzania (37%). Moreover, the share of women with an unmet need for family planning drops significantly as their educational attainment increases. While 52% of women without any formal education report unmet needs, this proportion decreases to 32% for women who have completed secondary education and to just 2% for women with a university-level education. Women’s unmet needs also vary greatly across regions: 8% of women living in Mtwara report not using a contraceptive method despite being with a partner and not wanting a child, compared to more than 70% of women living in Kusini Pemba, Kaskazini Pemba and Mwanza (Figure 1.13).

About one-third of the population holds discriminatory attitudes towards women’s use of contraception. At the national level, 32% of the population disagrees or strongly disagrees with a woman having the right to decide whether or not to use contraception. These discriminatory attitudes are more widespread in rural than in urban areas (38% and 34%, respectively) and are higher in Zanzibar (51%) than in Mainland Tanzania (36%). Moreover, more men (39%) than women (34%) hold the view that a woman should not have the right to decide whether to use contraception.

The vast majority of the population is opposed to the legalisation of abortion, although attitudes vary depending on the reasons cited. At the national level, regardless of sex, age or residential area, 90% of the population opposes passing a law that would legalise abortion under at least one of the following circumstances: to preserve a woman’s physical health; following a rape, statutory rape or incest; because of foetal unviability; or to prevent the woman from dying. However, attitudes towards abortion vary greatly depending on the circumstances. 76% of the population holds the view that abortion should be allowed to save a woman’s life and 79% believes it should be allowed in cases of foetal unviability. Conversely, 75% of the population believe that abortion should not be permitted to preserve the mental health of the woman, 72% maintain that it should not be allowed to preserve a woman’s physical health, and 74% believe it should not be permitted in cases of rape, statutory rape or incest. Some variations exist across regions. For instance, in Ruvuma, 56% and 69 % of the population believes that abortion should be permitted to preserve a women’s mental and physical health, respectively. In Tabora and Dodoma, more than 60% of the population would support a law allowing abortion in cases of rape.

“Access to agricultural land” is a composite indicator that measures discrimination against Tanzanian women in terms of ownership of, use of and control over agricultural land. The indicator looks at the share of agricultural landowners who are women as well as the proportion of these women who are authorised to sell, rent and use the land as collateral to borrow money. The indicator also measures the population’s attitudes towards women’s equal ownership of agricultural land and associated decision-making power. Tanzania’s score of 17 hides wide variations at the regional level where scores range from 1 in Njombe to 66 in Kusini Unguja. Scores are significantly higher in Zanzibar (49) than in Mainland Tanzania (16), indicating the presence there of important structural barriers constraining women’s ownership of and control over agricultural land.

Women’s ownership of agricultural land is significantly lower than that of men. At the national level, 33% of women own agricultural land, compared to 47% of men, translating into a gender gap of 14 percentage points. As the agricultural sector accounts for about one-third of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and around two-thirds of employment for both men and women, women’s lower level of ownership of critical productive assets such as agricultural land may have long-lasting consequences for their economic empowerment (World Bank, 2020[19]; World Bank, 2017[20]). In rural areas, in particular, this gender gap reaches 17 percentage points. The gender gap is consistent across all regions of Tanzania and reaches more than 20 percentage points in nine regions8 (Figure 1.14). Some of these regions are among the most rural in the country. For instance, the gender gap reaches 24 percentage points in Kagera where 89% of the population lives in a rural area. Likewise, the gender gap reaches 39 percentage points in Kusini Unguja, where 86% of the population lives in rural areas.

Nevertheless, a large part of the population seems to be supportive of women’s equal access to ownership and control over agricultural land. Regardless of the area or region of residence, a significant majority of Tanzania’s population considers that men and women should have equal access to agricultural land ownership (94%) and should enjoy equal decision-making power over the land owned (95%). Yet, attitudes regarding inheritance practices indicate that discriminatory social norms continue to hinder women’s ownership and control over land. Nearly one-fifth of the country’s population believes that a daughter should not have the same opportunities and rights as a son towards inheritance of land. In Zanzibar, the share of the population holding discriminatory attitudes towards the inheritance of land by daughters reached 68% (Figure 1.15). As inheritance constitutes one of the primary channels through which land is transmitted and acquired by individuals, these discriminatory attitudes likely reflect deeply entrenched structural barriers that constrain women’s equal ownership of land.

“Freedom of movement” refers to discrimination faced by women that impinges on their ability to move independently and of their own will in public spaces. This composite indicator measures women’s feeling of security when walking alone at night as well as the population’s opinion as to whether a woman requires her husband’s permission to go to certain public places.9 Tanzania scores 68 overall for this indicator. Discrimination is higher in Zanzibar than Mainland Tanzania, scoring respectively 85 and 68. Levels of discrimination also vary across regions: Manyara’s score of 48, although the lowest across all regions, remains relatively high, while Morogoro and Kusini Pemba both obtain an extremely high score of 92.

Half of Tanzanian women do not feel safe when walking alone at night in the neighbourhood where they live, compared to one-quarter of all men. As a result, 68% of the population who do not feel safe walking alone at night are women. This pattern is consistent across urban and rural areas, but differs between Mainland Tanzania and Zanzibar. Whereas 50% of women in Mainland Tanzania do not feel safe walking alone at night, this rate falls to 38% for women in Zanzibar (Figure 1.16, Panel A). While women across all regions express a relatively low feeling of security, the situation is most acute in Singida, Dodoma and Kagera, where 75% or more women declare feeling unsafe. At the national level, the three most commonly cited reasons why women do not feel safe are fear of robbery (66%), physical assault (57%) and rape (51%). Men mostly do not feel safe because they are afraid to be robbed (69%), to be physically assaulted (68%) or to be kidnapped (36%).

Discriminatory attitudes towards women’s freedom of movement are extremely high and are widespread throughout the country. More than 90% of the population shares the opinion that a woman should ask her husband or partner for permission if she wants to go to at least one of the following places: a market place, a cinema, a restaurant, a bar, a hospital or health centre, a sports field, a place of religious worship or a community meeting. The limited variation in these discriminatory attitudes found across regions, as well as between urban and rural areas, underscores how deeply entrenched they are. Attitudes opposing women’s ability to go to public places without asking their husband’s permission are most acute when related to leisure activities, such as going to a sports field, a cinema or a bar (Figure 1.16, Panel B).

The indicator “Access to justice” measures discrimination against women in terms of their access to justice. For both discriminatory practices and attitudes, the indicator looks at women’s ability to access the country’s justice system from the plaintiff’s perspective, measuring their confidence and trust in the police or judiciary in cases of conflict. The indicator also assesses the population’s attitudes towards women’s opportunities to become a judge as well as a set of attitudinal variables designed to measure the population’s attitudes towards women’s ability to go to court or the police freely.10 Tanzania scores 29 on the “Access to justice” indicator, while at the regional level Songwe reports the country’s lowest level of discrimination with a score of 13, and women’s access to justice is most limited in the regions of Iringa, Mwanza and Tabora.

Women’s ability and willingness to resort to the courts and the police are limited. In situations of conflict, only 20% of women would seek access to the lowest court in the judicial hierarchy – Primary Courts in Mainland and Khadi Courts in Zanzibar – and just 25% would seek help from the police. Likewise, only 27% of them would turn to religious or traditional leaders. In contrast, about two-thirds of women in Tanzania would turn to relatives or friends (Figure 1.17). About 70% of women also declare that they would turn to local government authorities in case of conflict. Although differences between men and women are limited and not significant, where a person lives matters. Overall, both men and women living in urban areas are significantly more likely to solicit the help of a court or police to settle a conflict than in rural areas.

Discriminatory social norms and attitudes restrict women’s ability to access the justice system and to seek redress through Tanzania’s legal institutions. Although a large majority of the population believes that men and women should have equal opportunity to file a complaint at a police station, more than three-quarters hold the opinion that a woman needs her husband’s or partner’s permission if she wants to contact the police (77%) or a court (83%). These attitudes reflect norms of restrictive masculinities that promote men’s role as protectors and guardians of the household and are internalised by society as a whole, including women themselves. This internalisation and wide acceptance of these norms regarding the guardianship of women in the household is reflected in behaviours that constrain women’s agency, including men controlling their wives’/partner’s mobility and determining if and when they may go to public places such as police stations and/or to the courts (OECD, 2021[15]). Although these discriminatory attitudes are widely held across all regions of the country – in no region does the share of the population holding such discriminatory attitudes drop below 50% – they are particularly high in Zanzibar (Figure 1.18, Panel A).

At the same time, norms opposing women’s representation in the system as judges remain high. At the national level, 39% of the population agrees or strongly agrees that men make better judges than women (Figure 1.18, Panel B). In Zanzibar, this share reaches 59%, indicating the presence of deeply entrenched social norms that view the ability to administer justice as a privilege of men.

Discriminatory social norms and practices function as major barriers for Tanzanian women and girls. The results of the SIGI Tanzania show that discrimination is particularly acute in the areas of girl child marriage and bride price, unequal intra-household dynamics – both in terms of unpaid care and domestic work and decision making – violence against women, reproductive autonomy, access to agricultural land, freedom of movement and access to justice.

The link between these discriminatory social norms and women’s empowerment is complex and multidimensional. Discriminatory social norms and attitudes, as measured by the SIGI, are at the root discriminatory practices. For instance, the prevalence of violence against women is closely associated with higher social acceptance of domestic violence (see Chapter 4). These underlying, and often concealed, norms and practices, in turn, have an impact on more visible outcomes for women. For example, high rates of girl child marriage have a profound effect in terms of increased adolescent pregnancies and reduced educational attainment for women (see Chapter 3)

At the same time, underlying factors may have their own underlying root causes that are grounded in discriminatory social norms. For instance, discriminatory inheritance practices are encouraged by traditional perceptions of the role of women and men within the family, as well as traditional views which hold that land belongs to men. These norms and practices have profound impacts on women’s access to agricultural land, which, in a country such as Tanzania whose economy remains largely dependent on agriculture, has critical downstream consequences on women’s economic empowerment (see Chapter 2). Likewise, traditional views of the role of men and women within the household strongly determine the unbalanced distribution of unpaid care and domestic work between men and women. These imbalances within the household themselves have negative repercussions on women’s access to the labour market (see Chapters 2 and 3).

Insights provided by the conceptual framework of the SIGI Tanzania and different analyses uncovering the link between discriminatory norms and practices and reduced empowerment outcomes provide evidence of wide variation across Tanzania. The type of barriers and discrimination faced by women and girls may vary depending on the location and their intensity may differ by region. For instance, female genital mutilation, although not a severe issue at the national level, remains a critical problem in specific regions of Mainland Tanzania that needs to be addressed (see Chapter 4). These results uncovered by the SIGI Tanzania at the sub-national level call for a targeted and tailored policy response. Structured and specific policy recommendations aimed at addressing the most problematic and entrenched obstacles faced by Tanzania women and girls are presented in the following chapters of the report.


[9] AfDB and UNECA (2020), Africa Gender Index Report 2019 : Analytical report, African Development Bank and United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, Abidjan, https://www.afdb.org/en/documents/africa-gender-index-report-2019-analytical-report (accessed on 23 September 2021).

[16] Anderson, S. (2007), “The Economics of Dowry and Brideprice”, Journal of Economic Perspectives, Vol. 21/4, pp. 151-174, https://doi.org/10.1257/jep.21.4.151.

[17] Anderson, S., L. Beaman and J. Platteau (eds.) (2018), Towards Gender Equity in Development, Oxford University Press, https://doi.org/10.1093/oso/9780198829591.001.0001.

[13] Ferrant, G., M. Pesando and K. Nowacka (2014), “Unpaid Care Work: The missing link in the analysis of gender gaps in labour outcomes”, http://www.oecd.org/dev/development-gender/unpaid_care_work.pdf.

[2] Government of Tanzania (2019), Country Report on the Review and Progress made in Implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action - Beijing +25, https://www.unwomen.org/-/media/headquarters/attachments/sections/csw/64/national-reviews/united-republic-of-tanzania-en.pdf?la=en&vs=711.

[3] Government of Tanzania (2004), The Employment and Labour Relations Act, 2004, https://www.ilo.org/dyn/natlex/docs/SERIAL/68319/66452/.

[7] Government of Zanzibar (2020), Zanzibar Development Vision 2050, http://planningznz.go.tz/doc/new/ZDV2050.pdf.

[8] Government of Zanzibar (2017), Zanzibar Strategy for Growth and Reduction of Poverty III, https://www.sheriasmz.go.tz/docs/En8hjdHkvg_MKUZA_III_NEW_[1].pdf.

[12] Mitra, P. et al. (2020), “Does Child Marriage Matter for Growth?”, IMF Working Papers, Vol. 20/27, https://doi.org/10.5089/9781513528823.001.

[15] OECD (2021), Man Enough? Measuring Masculine Norms to Promote Women’s Empowerment, Social Institutions and Gender Index, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://dx.doi.org/10.1787/6ffd1936-en.

[11] OECD (2021), SIGI Tanzania database, https://stats.oecd.org/.

[1] OECD (2019), SIGI 2019 Global Report: Transforming Challenges into Opportunities, Social Institutions and Gender Index, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://dx.doi.org/10.1787/bc56d212-en.

[14] OECD Development Centre/OECD (2019), “Gender, Institutions and Development (Edition 2019)”, OECD International Development Statistics (database), https://dx.doi.org/10.1787/ba5dbd30-en (accessed on 29 November 2021).

[10] United Nations Development Programme (2020), Human Development Report 2020, United Nations, https://doi.org/10.18356/9789210055161.

[5] United Republic of Tanzania (2021), “National Five Year Development Plan 2021/22 – 2025/26”, https://mof.go.tz/docs/news/FYDP%20III%20English.pdf (accessed on 5 October 2021).

[18] United Republic of Tanzania (2016), Five-year National Plan of Action to End Violence Against Women and Children (NPAVAWC 2017/18 – 2021/22), https://www.unicef.org/tanzania/media/496/file/tanzania-2016-NPA-VAWC.pdf.

[6] United Republic of Tanzania (2008), National Strategy for Gender Development, https://www.ilo.org/dyn/natlex/natlex4.detail?p_lang=en&p_isn=94117 (accessed on 5 October 2021).

[4] United Republic of Tanzania (1999), The Tanzania Development Vision 2025, https://mof.go.tz/mofdocs/overarch/vision2025.htm (accessed on 5 October 2021).

[19] World Bank (2020), Tanzania Mainland Poverty Assessment, World Bank, Washington, DC, https://doi.org/10.1596/33543.

[20] World Bank (2017), Zanzibar Poverty Assessment, World Bank, Washington, DC, http://hdl.handle.net/10986/28851.


← 1. Women of reproductive age are defined as women aged between 15 and 49 years old.

← 2. The African Gender Index is a composite index jointly developed by the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECE). It seeks to measure how women fare in comparison to men across three dimensions of human wellbeing: (i) economic, (ii) social and (iii) empowerment – including political and institutional representation. The index includes 26 indicators that cover parity outcomes across labour market participation, income, access to resources, representation in management, education, health, political representation, and land and house ownership.

← 3. The Gender Inequality Index is an inequality index and a composite measure developed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). It seeks to quantify the loss of achievement within a country due to gender inequality. It measures gender inequalities in three important aspects of human development: (i) reproductive health, (ii) empowerment and (iii) economic status. The Gender Inequality Index builds on the same framework as the Human Development Index and includes five indicators: maternal mortality ratio, adolescent birth rates, representation in parliaments, levels of secondary education and labour force participation rate.

← 4. SIGI scores range from 0 to 100, with 0 indicating no discrimination and 100 indicating absolute discrimination.

← 5. The Technical Advisory Group (TAG) of the SIGI Tanzania offers technical and conceptual guidance to the SIGI Tanzania. To provide a multi-dimensional perspective to the SIGI Tanzania, the TAG is composed of a limited number of recognised practitioners and experts in the different areas covered by the SIGI Tanzania, ranging from economists and statisticians to anthropologists, lawyers, sociologists and representatives from the government. The SIGI Tanzania TAG is co-chaired by the Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children of Mainland Tanzania and the Ministry of Labour Empowerment Elderly, Women and Children (MLEEWC) of Zanzibar.

← 6. The set of domestic tasks used to calculate the women-to-men ratio of time spent on unpaid care and domestic work includes: cooking for the household, cleaning the household, washing clothes, cleaning the bathroom/toilet, taking care of the elderly, taking care of the sick/disabled, repairing the house, taking care of the yard, buying groceries, fetching water for the household, fetching firewood for the household, supervising children’s homework, giving baths to children and feeding children.

← 7. The four forms of IPV assessed were: (i) physical – being beaten, slapped or kicked, or being physically assaulted with use of an object; (ii) psychological and emotional – being humiliated, threatened, insulted or frightened in private or in front of others; (iii) economic – having work or tools used for work damaged, sabotaged or destroyed; and (iv) sexual – being forced to have sexual intercourse without consent.

← 8. Kusini Unguja (39 percentage points), Kigoma (29 p.p.), Katavi (28 p.p.), Shinyanga (28 p.p.), Tabora (25 p.p.), Mwanza (24 p.p.), Kagera (24 p.p.), Dodoma (23 p.p.), Kaskazini Pemba (21 p.p.) and Pwani (21 p.p.).

← 9. The set of public places for which attitudes were measured included the market, cinema, restaurant, bar, hospital or health centre, sports’ field, religious sites or community meetings.

← 10. More precisely, the “Access to justice” indicator contains three variables that measure (i) the share of respondents who disagree or strongly disagree with the statement “Women and men should have equal opportunity to access courts of law”; (ii) the share of respondents who disagree or strongly disagree with the statement “Women and men should have equal opportunity to file a complaint at the police station”; and (iii) the share of respondent declaring that a wife or partner should ask permission to her husband or partner to go to the police or the court.

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