The diversity of Tanzania is reflected in the various forms of its culture and traditions. Over 120 ethnic groups call Tanzania home, and amongst them over 100 languages are spoken, with Swahili being the official language. Tanzania has a large Indian population comprising Hindus, Sunni Muslims, Sikhs, Parsis and Goans. The multi-culturalism of Tanzania is also evident in its mixed and varied art scene, its traditional ethnic music, colorful paintings and sculptures of indigenous hardwoods, specifically fetish style figurines and masks, and perhaps best reflected, its diverse cuisine.
With a population of 47.78 million people in 20122, Tanzania is one of the largest countries in Africa, and also one of poorest and least world’s least developed countries, ranking 152nd out of a total of 185 countries in the 2012 human development index. Extreme hunger and malnutrition, as well as poverty and maternal mortality remain key development challenges.
53 years old
is the normal life expectancy rate for women
of women are illiterate
FROM TANZANIA: MEET THE ARTISAN
Iringa Basket are handwoven in Tanzania, East Africa. Each artisan is able to work from the comfort of their own home and community. Woven from mijuu grass, a reed-like swamp grass, iringa baskets are an indispensable utility item of Tanzania’s Hehe people. The fair payment they receive will not be reduced by traveling expenses, childcare costs or haggled prices.
Vikapu Bomba is based out of Tanzania and works with marginalized female artisans in rural communities. The social enterprise strives to help artisans in the southern highlands of Tanzania to revive their artisanal traditions, such as traditional weaving, that have been passed down for several generations. Income generated from the sales of Vikapu Bomba products helps the local economy and provides female artisans with sustainable income to take care of their families.
WomenCraft is a social enterprise and member of the World Fair Trade Organization working with more than 300 artisans in 17 villages in Tanzania, Burundi, and Rwanda. WomenCraft consists of 24 artisans groups, which include former refugee women, survivors of genocide, and HIV-positive artisans. Many of these displaced artisans have been living in refugee camps for decades. Previously, several of the women were once struggling subsistence farmers. And many of the artisans assume the responsibility of carrying for HIV orphans; they are the surviving children of extended family members who lost their battle to AIDS. With WomenCraft, the artisans can increase their crop yield while having a work-family life balance, send their children to school, and provide better nutrition and healthcare.
HUMAN RIGHTS SITUATION
Under international human rights conventions that Tanzania has ratified, state organs are bound to uphold human rights. However, implementation of human rights obligations remains fragile due to capacity weaknesses in the justice system and delays in incorporating human rights into national laws. Principal human rights problems include the use of excessive force by military personnel, police, and prison guards, as well as societal violence; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; restrictions on freedoms of press and assembly, and on the movement of refugees; official corruption and impunity; etc. Also, the rights of vulnerable groups, indigenous peoples, sexual minorities and people with disabilities, are lacking behind.
The situation for women in Tanzania is still extremely challenging. Life expectancy for women is a very low 53 years, and 64% women are illiterate.5 Other challenges they face include the persistent and increasing burden of poverty; inequalities in arrangements for productive activities and in access to resources; inequalities in the sharing of power and decision-making; etc. Protection of women’s rights is also threatened by harmful traditional and cultural practices, such as polygamy, bride price, and female genital mutilation.6 Particular attention should be drawn to the widespread marginalization of the girl child in different spheres of life, including education, and the total exclusion caused for many by early and forced marriage. Some of these discriminatory policies are codified by law, setting the minimum marrying age at 15 years for girls.