Tanzania is ranked 47 out of 86 in the 2012 Social Institutions and Gender Index.

The country was ranked 53 out of 102 in the 2009 Social Institutions and Gender Index.

The 2011 Human Development Index rating for Tanzania is 0.466, placing it in 152nd place (out of 187 countries). Tanzania is ranked in 119th place in the Gender Inequality Index (out of 146 countries), with a score of 0.590. Tanzania is ranked in 59th place in the 2011 Global Gender Gap Index, with a score of 0.6904.

Discriminatory Family Code: 

The minimum legal age for marriage is 15 years for women and 18 years for men, but the law allows exceptions for girls aged 14 years under “justifiable” circumstances. As of 2008, it appeared that the law in regard to minimum age for marriage was under review, with a view to raising the minimum age to 18.[11] There is a high incidence of early marriage in Tanzania that has remained unchanged over the last fifteen years: between 1996 and 2004, between 23.5 and 27.8 percent of girls between 15 and 19 years of age were married, divorced or widowed.[12] In addition, the first of those studies, the 2004-2005 Demographic and Health Survey (DHS), found that 8.5 percent of ever married women between the ages of 20 and 49 were married before their 15th birthday.[13]

Tanzanian law recognises three types of marriage: monogamous, polygamous and potentially polygamous.[14] The 2004-2005 DHS reported that 22.9 of women surveyed were in polygamous marriages, which is lower than the 29 percent measured during the 1990s[15]

By law, mothers and fathers in Tanzania have equal rights in regard to parental authority, but many traditional practices discriminate against women, and men are very much in control at the household level.[16]  However, domestic violence is recognised as grounds for divorce by the courts.[17]

Customary Law (Declaration) Order No. 436/63 discriminates against women as widows and daughters with respect to inheritance.[18] Women and girls are unable to inherit clan land at all, and for other types of property, they inherit less if at all. Between 46 and 55 percent of all widows  are reported to be dispossessed of their land.[19]  According to the Chronic Poverty Research Centre, 38.06 percent of widows inherited majority of assets after their spouses in 2004.[20]

[11] CEDAW (2008) p.10 [12] United Nations (2004) p. 362;  National Bureau of Statistics (NBS)[Tanzania] and ORC Macro (2005) [13] NBS and ORC Macro (2005) 2004-2005, Table 6.3 [14] CEDAW (2008) p.4 [15] NBS and ORC Macro (2005), Table 6.2; Von Struensee, V. (2005), Appendix I [16] Emory University School of Law, (2002); CEDAW (2007) p.12 [17] US Department of State (2011) [18] Strickland, R. (2004) p. 40; CEDAW (2007) pp. 16-17 [19] NBS and ORC Macro (2005), Table 12.24; Tanzania Commission for AIDS (TACAIDS) et al. (2008), Table 12.7 [20] Chronic Poverty Research Centre (2011) p.20

Restricted Physical Integrity: 

In 1998, the government passed the Sexual Offences Special Provision Act, 1998, which addresses both rape and incest. The law also criminalises spousal rape, but only if the couple is legally separated. Rape is now punishable by life imprisonment or by 30 days in prison with corporal punishment.[21]

There is no law in Tanzania specifically addressing domestic violence.[22] When women do seek help from the police, they are generally unwilling to intervene.[23]

Sexual harassment in the workplace is prohibited in Tanzania, but is understood to be widespread.[24] According to the US Department of State’s 2010 human rights report, this includes women being expected to perform sexual favours in exchange for promotion at work.[25]

Domestic violence remains very widespread and severely under-reported.[26]   Pressure from family and the community to remain silent, and stigma surrounding gender-based violence prevents many women from reporting spousal violence.[27]  The number of complaints filed in relation to violence against women has increased in recent years. A 2005 study found that 15 percent of ever married women had been physically assaulted in the previous 12 months, while 33 percent had ever experienced violence at the hands of their partner.[28] A majority of women in Tanzania view some forms of wife beating as justified; in the 2004-2005 DHS, when presented with a list of five reasons why a husband might be justified in beating his wife, 59.6 percent agreed with at least one reason.[29]

Rape remains a serious problem. According to the US Department of State, there were an estimated 3,200 reported rape cases between January and June of 2010 throughout the country.[30] More than 10 percent of Tanzanian women are thought to have suffered a sexual assault, but this figure may be low because very few women register complaints.[31]

FGM for anyone under the age of 18 is prohibited under the Sexual Offences Special Provision Act, 1998, and section 21 of the penal code, with punishments of 5 to 15 years in prison.[32] However, according to 2008 report to the CEDAW committee, the law is poorly enforced, and as of 2008, no-one had been prosecuted for performing FGM.[33] The 2005 DHS found that nearly 15 percent of women surveyed had undergone some form of FGM.[34] According to some sources, the number of Tanzanian women who want FGM to continue is very low; the 2005 DHS, for example found more than 90 percent of those surveyed wanted the practice to end, versus only 5 percent who thought it should continue.[35]

Abortion can only be performed legally in cases where the woman’s mental or physical health is in danger.[36] 

There are no legal restrictions on women’s access to contraception in Tanzania.[37]  While knowledge of contraceptives approached universal in Tanzania,[38] a women’s decision to use and usage patterns appear to be strongly correlated with her feelings about contraception and her desire for children. Overall 20 percent of currently married women were using contraception at the time of the 2004-2005 DHS.[39] Among the 73.6 percent of women who were not using, just over 56 percent intended future use, while 38.6 percent did not.[40] Of this latter group, and unlike respondents to this question in surveys in surrounding countries, relatively few women reported a reason related to infertility. Rather, more than 15.5 percent reported outright opposition to contraception; an additional 7.4 percent said that their husband opposed, and an additional 15.6 percent wanted to have as many children as possible.[41]  Other factors limiting women’s access to contraction include shortages of supplies at clinics, and the need to travel long distances to reach healthcare providers.[42]

[21] CEDAW (2007) p. 19; ECOSOC (2003) p. 118 [22] US Department of State (2011) [23] US Department of State (2011) [24] US Department of State (2011) [25] US Department of State (2011) [26] ECOSOC (2003) p. 119; US Department of State (2010) [27] ECOSOC (2003) p. 119; US Department of State (2010) [28] WHO (2005), Table 4.1 [29] NBS and ORC Macro (2005), Table 3.11.1 [30] US Department of State (2011) [31] US Department of State (2010) [32] CEDAW (2008) p.5; ECOSOC (2003) p. 118 [33] CEDAW (2008) p.5 [34] NBS and ORC Macro (2005), Table 13.2 [35] NBS and ORC Macro (2005), Table 13.6 [36] UN (2011) [37] US Department of State (2011) [38] NBS and ORC Macro (2005), Table 5.1.1 [39] NBS and ORC Macro (2005), Table 5.4 [40] NBS and ORC Macro (2005), Tables 5.4 and 5.13 [41] NBS and ORC Macro (2005), Table 5.14 [42] US Department of State (2011)

Son Bias: 

According to the 2010 DHS, 75.8% of boys and 74.5% of girls under two had had all their basic vaccinations.[43] Under-five mortality rates were higher for boys than for girls, as were rates of malnutrition.[44] Overall, this is not indicative of son preference in regard to early childhood care.

DHS data for 2010 indicates that 20% of women aged 20-24 had no education at all, compared to 9.6% of men. Secondary school completion rates for the same age bracket were 19.5% and 32.7% respectively.[45] This would indicate some preference towards sons in regard to access to education.

The male/female sex ratio for the total population in 2012 is 0.98.[46] 

There is no evidence to suggest that Tanzania is a country of concern in relation to missing women.

[43] National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) [Tanzania] and ICF Macro (2011), Table 10.3 [44] NBS and ICF Macro (2011), Tables 8.4 and 11.1 [45] NBS and ICF Macro (2011), Tables 3.2.1 and 3.2.2 [46] Central Intelligence Agency (2012)

Restricted Resources and Entitlements: 

Customary laws that restrict a woman’s property rights are still widespread, but the government of Tanzania has taken steps to improve legislation in regard to women’s ownership rights. The 1999 Land Act gives Tanzanian women the right to obtain access to land, including the right to own, use and sell land, and mandates joint titling of land.[47] The Village Land Act ensures that women are represented on land allocation committees and land administration councils.[48]

Although Tanzania’s Law of Marriage Act grants women certain ownership rights, including access to property other than land, customary and Islamic laws that undermine these rights prevail within the Muslim community.[49] Upholding the Law of Marriage Act, the Supreme Court of Tanzania has invalidated customary law that prevented women from selling land.[50]

A 2004 amendment to the Land Act gave Tanzanian women the right to mortgage land to enable them to access to bank loans.[51] Prior to this, a women’s development fund was established in 1993 to facilitate access to commercial loans and encourage women to participate in the economic sector.[52] However, customary practices continue to restrict women’s access to and control over loans and credit.

[47] Knox, A., et al. (2007) p.7 [48] Land Act No. 4 of 1999; Village Lands Act No. 5 of 1999 in CEDAW (2007) p. 16 [49] ECOSOC (2003) p. 120 [50] World Bank et al. (2009) p. 144 [51] CEDAW (2007) p. 116 [52] CEDAW (1996) pp. 3-5

Restricted Civil Liberties: 

Tanzanian women’s civil liberties appear to be respected; there are no stated legal restrictions on theiraccess to public space. However, women’s freedom of movement may be restricted on a day-to-day basis: 48.9% of married women aged 15-49 questioned for the 2010 DHS said that their husbands made the final decision as to whether or not they could travel to visit family.[53] 

Freedom of speech, assembly and association are generally respected in Tanzania.[54] Women’s rights organisations in Tanzania appear to be particularly active in the area of raising awareness of gender-based violence, and providing support to victims.[55]

With respect to political participation, women hold 99 of 323 seats in Tanzania’s unicameral National Assembly, which is just above the Constitutional mandate that women occupy 30 percent of the seats. In addition, 7 women were appointed to hold ministerial positions.[56]

Tanzania offers paid maternity leave to employed women for up to 84 days (12 weeks), financed by a national social security fund.[57] However, the large number of women employed in the informal sector and as unpaid agricultural workers means that they are not eligible for maternity and other social security benefits.[58]

[53] NBS and ICF Macro (2011), Table 14.4.1 [54] Freedom House (2010) [55] US Department of State (2011) [56] IPU (2010), US Department of State (2010) [57] ILO (2009) p. 173 [58] CEDAW (1996) p. 19


Tanzania became independent from Britain in 1964.[1] Following a period of one-party rule, democratic elections were held for the first time in 1995.[2] Politically and economically stable, Tanzania has developed as a popular tourist destination, with many coming to visit Mount Kilimanjaro and the Serengeti national park.[3] Tanzania is classed as a low-income country by the World Bank.[4]

The Constitution of Tanzania prohibits gender-based discrimination but the country’s legislation has yet to be adjusted to support this principle.[5] In general, legal protection for women remains limited, in part because Tanzania’s judicial authorities take into account both customary and Islamic laws.[6]

Stereotypical views of the role and place of men and women still persist in Tanzania, and are evident at the household level, division of labour, access and control over resources and power relations.[7] Whilst Tanzania has achieved gender parity in primary school education, gender gaps remain in secondary and tertiary education, wage equality and political participation.[8]

Tanzania ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discriminatoin Against Women in 1985, and the Optional Protocol in 2004.[9] The country ratified the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa in 2007.[10]

[1] CIA (2011) [2] CIA (2011) [3] BBC (n.d.) [4] World Bank (n.d.) [5] 13th Amendment of the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania of 1977 in CEDAW (2007) p. 13 [6] US Department of State (2010); CEDAW (Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women) (1996) pp. 5-7; CEDAW (2007) pp. 16-17, 22 [7] CEDAW (2007) p.12 [8] World Economic Forum (2010) [9] UNTC (2011) [10] African Union (2010)


African Union (2010) ‘List of countries which have signed, ratified/acceded to the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa’ (as of 27 August 2010). http://www.africa-union.org/root/au/Documents/Treaties/List/Protocol%20on%20the%20Rights%20of%20Women.pdf

BBC (n.d.) ‘Tanzania profile’, BBC News, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-14095776 (accessed 11 November 2011)

Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) (2011) The World Factbook: Tanzania, online edition, Washington, D.C.: CIA, https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/tz.html (accessed 11 November 2011)

Central Intelligence Agency (2012) The World Factbook: Sex Ratio, available at https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/fields/2018.html (accessed 9 March 2012)

Chronic Poverty Research Centre (2011) Widowhood and asset inheritance in sub-Saharan Africa: empirical evidence from 15 countries, available at http://www.chronicpoverty.org/uploads/publication_files/WP183%20Peterman.pdf (accessed 7 March 2012)

Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) (1996), Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties Under Article 18 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women: Tanzania, Combined Second and Third Periodic Reports of States Parties, CEDAW/C/TZA/4-6, CEDAW, New York, NY.

CEDAW (2007), Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties Under Article 18 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women: Tanzania, Combined Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Periodic Reports of States Parties, CEDAW/C/TZA/4-6, CEDAW, New York, NY.

CEDAW (2008) ‘Responses to the list of issues and questions with regard to the consideration of the combined fourth, fifth and sixth periodic reports United Republic of Tanzania’, CEDAW/C/TZA/Q/6/Add.1, CEDAW, New York. United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) (2003), Integration of the Human Rights of Women and the Gender Perspective: Violence Against Women, E/CN.4/2003/75/Add.1, UN, New York, NY.

Emory University School of Law, (2002), Islamic Family Law, Socio-Cultural Information By Region, East Central Africa, Family in the Region, Emory Law School, Atlanta, www.law.emory.edu/IFL/ (accessed 27 March 2010)

Freedom House (2010) ‘Freedom in the world country reports: Tanzania’, http://www.freedomhouse.org/template.cfm?page=363&year=2010&country=7931 (accessed 11 November 2011)

International Labour Organization (ILO) (2009), Database of Conditions of Work and Employment Laws, ILO, Geneva, Switzerland (accessed 26 March 2010)

Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) (2010), Women in Parliament: All Countries on National Parliaments, IPU: Geneva, http://www.ipu.org/wmn-e/classif.htm

Knox, A., N. Duvvury, and N. Milici (2007), Connecting Rights to Reality: A Progressive Framework of Core Legal Protections for Women’s Property Rights, ICRW (International Center for Research on Women): Washington, DC.

National Bureau of Statistics (NBS)[Tanzania] and ORC Macro (2005), Demographic and Health Survey 2004-2005, NBS and ORC Macro: Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) [Tanzania] and ICF Macro. 2011. Tanzania Demographic and Health Survey 2010. Dar es Salaam, Tanzania: NBS and ICF Macro.

Strickland, R. (2004), “To Have and To Hold: Women’s Property and Inheritance Rights in the Context of HIV/AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa,” Working Paper, ICRW: Washington, DC

Struensee, V. von (2005), “The Contribution of Polygamy to Women’s Oppression and Impoverishment: An Argument for its Prohibition”, Murdoch University Electronic Journal of Law, Murdoch, www.austlii.edu.au/au/journals/MurUEJL/2005/2.html

Tanzania Commission for AIDS (TACAIDS), ZAC (Zanzibar AIDS Commission), NBS, OGCS (Office of the Chief Government Statistician), and Macro International, Inc. (2008), Tanzania HIV/AIDS and Malaria Indicator Survey 2007-2008, TACAIDS, ZAC, NBS, OGCS, and Macro: Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) (2006), Violence Against Women – Facts and Figures, UNIFEM, New York, NY.

United Nations Development Programme (2011) Human Development Report 2011, available at http://hdr.undp.org/en/media/HDR_2011_EN_Complete.pdf (accessed 29 February 2012)

United Nations (UN) (2004), World Fertility Report 2003, UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division, New York, NY.

UN (2011) ‘World Abortion Policies 2011’, UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division, New York. http://www.un.org/esa/population/publications/2011abortion/2011wallchart.pdf

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) (2011) Human Development Report 2011, http://hdr.undp.org/en/data/profiles/ (accessed 8 November 2011)

United Nations Treaty Collection (UNTC) (2011): Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women, countries ratified. 

-              CEDAW: http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-8&chapter=4&lang=en (accessed 9 November 2011)

-              Optional Protocol: http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-8-b&chapter=4&lang=en (accessed 9 November 2011)

USAID (2004) Demographic and health Survey Tanzania

US Department of State (2010), 2009 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Tanzania, US Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, Washington, DC.

US Department of State (2011), 2010 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Tanzania, US Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, Washington, DC. http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2010/af/154373.htm (accessed 11 November 2011)

World Health Organization (WHO) (2005), WHO Multi-Country Study on Women’s Health and Domestic Violence Against Women: Report on the First Results, WHO: Geneva, Switzerland.

World Bank (n.d.) ‘Data: Tanzania’, Washington, D.C., World Bank, http://data.worldbank.org/country/tanzania (accessed 11 November 2011)

World Bank, Food and Agriculture Organization, and International Fund for Agricultural Development (2009), Gender in Agriculture Sourcebook, The World Bank, Washington, DC.

World Bank (2010), Women, Business, and the Law: Measuring Legal Gender Parity for Entrepreneurs and Workers in 128 Economies, World Bank: Washington, DC.

World Economic Forum (2010) ‘The Global Gender Gap Index 2010 rankings’, http://www.weforum.org/pdf/gendergap/rankings2010.pdf

World Economic Forum (2011) The Global Gender Gap Report 2011, available at http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_GenderGap_Report_2011.pdf (accessed 2 March 2012)


Discrim. Fam. Code Rank 2012: 
Discrim. Fam. Code Value 2012: 
Legal Age of Marriage: 
Early Marriage: 
Parental Authority: 
Rest. Phys. Integrity Rank 2012: 
Rest. Phys. Integrity Value 2012: 
Violence Against Women (laws): 
Female Genital Mutilation: 
Reproductive Integrity: 
Attitudes Towards Domestic Violence: 
Prevalance Of Domestic Violence: 
Son Bias Rank 2012: 
Son Bias Value 2012: 
Missing Women: 
Fertility Preferences: 
Rest. Resources & Ent. Rank 2012: 
Rest. Resources & Ent. Value 2012: 
Access To Land: 
Access To Property Other Than Land: 
Access To Bank Loans And Credit: 
Rest. Civil Liberties Rank 2012: 
Rest. Civil Liberties Value 2012: 
Access To Public Space: 
Political Participation: 
Political Quotas: