UN Resident Coordinator's Speech on Women, Business and Law Workshop

Gender equality is possible, and with our joint efforts, I believe we will make substantial headway towards the reform of all discriminatory laws

Hon. Mgeni Hassan Juma, Deputy Speaker for the Zanzibar House of Representatives,

Honourable Members of Parliament present,

Mr. Inaam UI Haq, Representing the Country Director for the World Bank in Tanzania,

Ms. Hodan Addou, UN Women Representative,

Representatives from the Governments of the United Republic of Tanzania and the Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar,

World Bank and UN Colleagues,

Members from the Media,

Mabibi na Mabwana,

Habari za Asubuhi

I am very pleased to have the opportunity to be with you today and close the workshop on ‘Women, Business and the Law’, jointly hosted by the World Bank and UN Women.

I would like to begin my remarks by reflecting on the role of law. At their very basic level, laws exist to protect people from harm and ensure common good and to help promote the health, safety and welfare of citizens. Laws bear the responsibility of safeguarding the rights of all citizens, regardless of ethnicity, status or gender.

Over the past two days, you have all participated in discussions on women’s economic empowerment, and the critical role of the law in ensuring that we achieve gender equality. Too many women and girls around the world, and right here in Tanzania, are still affected by discriminatory laws and lack of legal protections.  Laws reflect different standards for women and men in areas that affect their families; their livelihoods; their ability to participate in economic activities and decision-making in equal standing to men; and in the case of gender-based violence, their personal safety.

Constituting the majority of the labour force, nearly 50% of the employed population and owning more than 64% of Small and Medium Enterprises in the country, women are vital to the achievement of economic transformation and sustainable development. Legal and regulatory frameworks must support women to be able to fulfil these roles. In order for that to happen, discriminatory laws need to be reformed, and I believe that the proper analysis of those laws, and bringing stakeholders together in a room such as this one to chart the way forward is an important step in this process.

It is encouraging to note that despite existing discriminatory laws and practices, Tanzania has made a lot of progress, and is working towards realizing global and national commitments, including the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and the Beijing Platform for Action. The government has put in place institutional, policy and legal frameworks in areas including women’s access to land, financial inclusion, political participation, access to justice, education, access to healthcare services, and protecting women from gender-based violence and exploitation. The United Nations in Tanzania remains committed to supporting the Government in its endeavours.

Let me take this opportunity to congratulate the World Bank and UN Women for convening this workshop, and for the important work, they are undertaking on analyzing the economic impact of gender-differentiated laws and practices, and the effect on women’s economic opportunities. The 2019 World Bank report on Women, Business and the Law provide a wealth of insight into how women’s economic decisions are affected by legal frameworks and their application, and I applaud the World Bank colleagues here today for this important piece of work.

As the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, UN Women has made significant efforts in providing support to strengthen the policy and legal environment in order to safeguard the rights of women. You have heard several presentations based on the work that is being done globally on women’s economic empowerment, equality in the law, women’s work, property rights, gender-based violence, educating girls and ending child marriage, among others.

We are proud of the achievements we have made thus far, but there is still much that needs to be done to achieve SDG 5 – for gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls.

One of the greatest advantages of platforms such as this one is that it brings the voices, knowledge and experience of all stakeholders and actors together to align our thinking, and I hope that the conclusions and recommendations that came out of this meeting will make a meaningful contribution to future interventions.

Gender equality is possible, and with our joint efforts, I believe we will make substantial headway towards the reform of all discriminatory laws so that women in Tanzania are able to fulfil their rightful roles in the economy, and no woman or girl is left behind.

Asanteni sana na Kila la Heri!

Speech by
Alvaro Rodriguez
Former UN Resident Coordinator
Alvaro Rodrigues
UN entities involved in this initiative
United Nations