Dar es Salaam, Tanzania (PANA) – Gender equality and the second strike by doctors in public hospitals this year were issues that dominated the Tanzanian newspapers this week.
According to the dailies, Celebrations marking the International Women’s Day, under the theme ‘Empower rural women – End hunger and poverty’, brought to the fore the urgent need to invest in the rural womenfolk so that they can fulfill their potentials in national development.
“Given the chance and equal access to productive resources, women can help wipe out hunger from the face of the world,” said The Citizen daily.
The paper went on: “Discriminatory laws and practices affect not just women but the entire communities and nations. Countries where women lack land ownership rights or access to credit have more malnourished children.
“It is strange that even in those countries with the best records, there is under-representation of women in political and business decision-making processes.”
According to the daily, training girls and women in rural areas is a requirement for their empowerment. They need vocational education in agriculture, and giving them soft loans, teaching them scientific ways of farming and preserving food products, and creating a market where they can sell their products without middlemen’s intervention can greatly contribute to improving the living standards of rural women.
The Guardian said "marking the International Women’s Day in Tanzania looked much more of a routine than anything else though the whole thing revolved around an issue of immense consequence that touches on the roots of human development and civilisation."
Recalling the 1948 International Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations, the paper said the document reiterates the sanctity of the equality between men and women but the situation on the ground tells a completely different story.
“When it comes to acts, practices and behaviour that add up to flouting of the principles of human equality and dignity, both industrialised and developing nations have their share of the blame.
“It is for this reason that we subscribe to suggestions that using awareness and education campaigns promise to be among the most effective ways of ensuring that respect for basic human rights carries the day across the globe,” the paper said.
The same daily concluded that events held every year in commemoration of the day by showcasing the economic, political and social achievements of women play a key role in inspiring millions of minds into working for the betterment of the lives of women to make the world a better place to live.
Barely a month after Tanzania emerged from a devastative strike by medical doctors in public hospitals, the country was once again this week enmeshed in the same crisis and newspapers were filled with reports of miserable patients being transferred from government-run to private hospitals for treatment.
A day before the renewed strike, the government-owned Daily News decried the doctors’ decision as unacceptable and said that it deserved outright public condemnation.
The doctors this time addressed their demands to President Jakaya Kikwete and one of their conditions for continued negotiations with the government was the sacking of Health and Social Welfare Minister Hadji Mponda and his deputy, Lucy Nkya, both medical professionals.
“Public opinion has always been against such strikes or go-slow, especially when planned by the very people entrusted with taking care of people’s health and lives,” the paper said.
Recalling the doctors’ three-week strike that ended mid-February, the daily said: “…after the recent strike the government took a number of measures to rectify the situation …[but striking] this time shows that there is some kind of a ‘dirty game’ being played.”
“The doctors need to be clear on what they really want. Strikes or strike threats won’t solve any problem other than causing unnecessary panic and harm to innocent people,” the paper added.
As the week came to its close, The Guardian reported that the representatives of the striking doctors were consulting their lawyer over the High Court ruling on Thursday that the strike was illegal and required them to resume work.
“We have taken the matter to our lawyer…we are waiting for his advice on whether to go back to work or not”, the paper quoted an official of the Medical Association of Tanzania (MAT) as saying.
Meanwhile, most public hospitals were not attending to patients as doctors just reported to their respective workplaces and signed attendance registers only.
However, The Citizen on Saturday reported that after staying out of the way in the delicate issue of the doctors’ strike, President Kikwete finally stepped in Friday by holding a long meeting with the medics at the State House.
“The move was expected to end the standoff that has cost lives of many while straining relations between the government and medical professionals, leaving hapless Tanzanians in limbo,” said the daily which added that the outcome of the meeting was yet to be known.
-0- PANA AR/VAO 10March2012