Empowering Women: Reflecting on Progress, Addressing Challenges, and Investing in the Future.

“As we reflect on our progress and the road ahead, it’s clear that supporting women’s economic empowerment is not just a moral obligation but a strategic investment in our collective future.” Dr. Mary Nicholaus MD. 

As we mark another Women’s Day, it is a moment of reflection, celebration, and strategic foresight for organizations and communities worldwide. Our collective journey towards women’s empowerment has seen significant strides, yet it unfolds in the shadow of persistent challenges. This year’s theme, “Investing in Women: Accelerating Progress,” serves as a reminder of the crucial role women play as primary earners and economic contributors in their families and communities. As an organization dedicated to community empowerment, we recognize the importance of this moment to further our mission and impact.

Celebrating MilestonesOur journey thus far has been marked by remarkable milestones that showcase the potential of women when given equal opportunities. Earlier this year, we held training and conversations with community health workers in southern Tanzania. It was impressive that most of these volunteers were women which tells more about the powerful and unconditional support to community health that women are offering even without being compensated for that. Today we celebrate all community health workers who are working in difficult environments with a great hope to change the narrative for future generations. 

On the other hand, we still celebrate the first female president in East Africa Her Excellency Samia Suluhu Hassan The President of the United Republic of Tanzania who stands as a testament to breaking the glass ceiling in political leadership. Similarly, women excelling in politics, health advocacy, academics, science, and other significant projects illuminate the path for future generations. These achievements are not just individual victories but collective triumphs that underscore the importance of fostering environments where women and girls can pursue their dreams without being stopped by gender issues. 

Confronting Realities

Despite these successes, the road to gender equality is fraught with challenges. The advent of digitalization has reshaped societal roles, propelling women from traditional caregiving positions to becoming breadwinners. This transition, while empowering, has introduced complexities in balancing work and family responsibilities, navigating economic participation, and sustaining mental well-being. The harsh reality for many women in our local communities includes the struggle to acquire the necessary skills for economic empowerment, leading to failed ventures, financial insecurities, and familial tensions. I mentioned earlier about the women I met in southern parts of Tanzania during our community health workers (CHW) training programs earlier this year. One of the major stumbling blocks for many if not all is financial constraints which is even being fueled by the impact of climate change and its devastating impacts on their health, agriculture, and the entire living ecosystem. These are the realities that we need to collectively confront to ensure a sustainable investment for the future and a fully empowered women generation. 

Investing in Solutions

Addressing these challenges requires concerted efforts from both government and non-governmental institutions. Our organization advocates for the initiation of local empowerment programs tailored for women, aiming to bridge the gap between them and economic participation. By providing insights into economic grounds, basic investment knowledge, financial literacy, and entrepreneurship skills, we can lay a foundation for sustainable empowerment. Furthermore, revisiting microfinance policies to ensure they cater to the unique needs of women starting small businesses is imperative for creating a supportive ecosystem.

Professional counseling services play a crucial role in equipping women with strategies to balance work and family life effectively. These services should aim at preventing mental breakdowns and mitigating conflicts, thereby fostering healthier family dynamics and individual well-being.

Addressing the impact of climate change is even more urgent for the betterment of women and the entire community life. Taking action for mitigation and adaptation processes such as clean cooking energy, building climate-resilient health and agricultural systems, reducing fossil fuels, protecting water bodies and more means investing in women as they are the most vulnerable group. 

A Call to Action

As we reflect on our progress and the road ahead, it’s clear that supporting women’s economic empowerment is not just a moral obligation but a strategic investment in our collective future. By enabling women to excel in business and economic activities, we not only champion gender equality but also catalyze sustainable development within our communities.

This Women’s Day, let us recommit to the cause of women’s empowerment, recognizing the achievements that have paved the way and addressing the challenges that remain. Together, we can build a more inclusive, equitable world where every woman has the opportunity to thrive. Our dedication to investing in women is a declaration of our belief in their potential to transform their lives and, by extension, our societies at large. Let’s turn this belief into action, for in the empowerment of women lies the key to accelerating progress for all.

About the author

Dr. Mary Nicholaus is a medical doctor and a public health practitioner in Tanzania, currently serving as an academician at Mbeya University of Science and Technology (MUST). Dr Mary is also a founding member and programs manager at Amplify Health and Development in Africa (AHDA) helping the organization in the planning, promotion, implementation, and evaluation of programs.