Proceedings of The 5th Global Conference on Women’s Studies
Women and Political Leadership: Facilitating Factors in Tanzania
Caroline Israel, Ruth Meena and Mary Rusimbi
Using a women and empowerment framework, this paper used a life history approach to identify the factors in the life cycle of women that influenced their journey to political empowerment in Tanzania. Twenty women shared their lived experiences of this journey. This paper shows that parents, particularly fathers, played a central role in their empowerment, by investing in their daughters’ education and serving as role models to them. Majority indicated that their spouses supported their leadership journey by providing emotional support, the financial resources and helping them to maintain a family-work balance. They underscored the importance of role models who supported their determination to make a difference and their personal ambition to attain a leadership role. Schools and teachers also influenced them on this journey, by nurturing the respondents’ leadership talents by giving them leadership roles when they were schoolgirls and encouraging their progress. Both informal and formal networks were key resources in enhancing the participants’ capacity and in supporting their aspirations to fulfil their potential. Although external factors can serve an empowering role, the decision to engage or disengage always originates in the individual. So, their specific traits played a role in influencing the choices made by the women. This included determination to make a difference, the ambition to lead others and the drive to serve others. This paper recommends collaboration and coordination among key institutions to provide research, training, mentoring and education needed to nurture and promote women’s leadership in their chosen areas of influence.
keywords: leadership, empowerment, political, women