By Daniela Bajan – Art in Tanzania internship

As is well known, gender is a constructed concept. In sociology, there is a distinction between sex and gender. Sex are the biological characteristics that societies use to assign people into the category of either male or female. On the other hand, we have gender, which is an understanding of how society shapes our perception of those biological categories. More specifically, it is a concept that describes how societies determine and manage sex categories; the cultural meanings attached to men and women’s roles; and how individuals understand their identities including, but not limited to, being a man, woman, transgender, intersex, gender queer and other gender positions. Gender involves social norms, attitudes and activities that society deems more appropriate for one sex over another. Gender is also determined by what an individual feels and does.

Weaker characteristics are usually attributed to women, they are perceived as individuals who work in the private sphere, that is at home. 

Below you will read a short list of some great Tanzanian women. With their commitment they have motivated, changed and encouraged the citizens of Tanzania. Their hard working is well connected with one of the seventeen goals of the United Nations: gender equality. Achieving gender equality and empower all women is necessary for a sustainable and peaceful world. 

REBECA Z. GYUMI “I call everyone to lend their voice, to win this fight”

She is the Founder and Executive Director at Msichana Initiative. This is a Tanzanian NGO which aims to empower girls through education. She is a lawyer and she won a case on child marriages, in July 2016 the country’s High Court ruled that the Marriage Act, which allowed girls as young as 14 to be married, was unconstitutional. The decision raised the minimum age of marriage to 18 for both girls and boys. 

She’s a brave woman and she has visited different parts of Tanzania in order to discuss current issues such as sexual and reproductive health. Rebeca is recognized international for her engagement in youth and girls’ rights. 

GERTRUDE MONGELLA “It is not enough just to open the door to the rooms of power. We have to get inside and rearrange the furniture!”

She is the Special Advisor to the ECA Executive Secretary and to the UNESCO Director General; Founder, Advocacy for Women in Africa (AWA); Former president of the Pan-African Parliament. 

In 1993 she became a diplomat to the UN and led the fourth World Conference on Women (1993-1995).

She is a feminist and she supported Palestinian women to gain power in political processes. Recently she became Tanzania’s Goodwill Ambassador to the World Health Organization and a member of the AU’s African Women’s Committee for Peace and Development. 

FARAJA NYALANDU “we have all heard what we are capable of. Now, we just need to own the accolades”

In 2013 she established Shule Direct, an organisation providing comprehensive web and mobile educational platforms offering learning content to over 1 million in and out of school youth. She is a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council on Education, Gender and Work. Faraja has been awarded a 2017 System Innovator award by Segal Family Foundation for systemic change in digital learning in Secondary School education in Tanzania and Woman in Tech award by the Tanzania Women of Achievement Awards 2018  

HELEN KIJO-BISIMBA “remember today’s children are the leaders of tomorrow”

is a Human Rights activist in Tanzania, and she was the Executive Director of the country’s Legal and Human Rights Centre, which is a civic body that ensures every Tanzanian individual’s human rights are protected and respected rom all sorts of abuses. She fought for the rights of local marginalized people, men and women both young and old. 

She was the first Tanzanian woman to receive the Tanzania Woman of Courage Award which was issued by the American Embassy in Tanzania in 2008. In fact, in 2001 she put up a statement against the government. 


She is a politician and she has been Minister of Health, Community Development, Gender, Seniors and Children in the Cabinet of Tanzania. She has a bachelor’s degree in Laws, and she received also her Master of Laws degree from the University of Pretoria. She has worked in different NGO agencies in legal, research and governance roles. 


She is known for her online campaign “Change Tanzania”. Change Tanzania started as a hashtag on Twitter to influence Tanzanian people to participate in bringing positive change in different aspect of life. She is an activist and she has a degree in Humanities, she has participated in the making of films such as Am Tired (2005) and Born on Fire (2008). Through the use of media, she promotes education to young women, and against discrimination toward women. 


She launched the Doris Mollel Foundation with the main goal of reducing death rates for premature babies. Her Foundation concentrates on raising awareness for premature babies, furnishing hospitals with equipment to ensure their survival while in hospital. 


She is a politician and she became Tanzania’s first female Vice-President. She served as the Member of Parliament for Makunduchi constituency from 2010 tu 2015 and has been Minister of State in the Vice-President’s Office for Union Affairs since 2010- 


She is a pure philanthropist for social change. The Flaviana Matata Foundation empowers young, orphaned girls in Tanzania through education, training and microfinance projects to improve their lives. 


She founded Selfina where she was a pioneer of micro-credit in Tanzania through micro-leasing with particular attention to widows and young girls. This foundation empowers women to become more independent and support their livelihoods. 





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