Mrs Graça Machel recently attended a gathering of businesswomen in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, which was held with the aim of empowering local business women’s associations in that country.
The event took place on 26 August and was organised by Elihaika Mrema, the co-ordinator for the Tanzanian chapter of the Network of African Business Women (NABW), with financial and technical support from the Graça Machel Trust. The International Labour Organisation provided the venue for the meeting at no charge.
More than 80 participants, representing over 24 associations, travelled from all over Tanzania to attend the meeting.
Mrs Machel highlighted the work of the NABW, explaining that it exists to empower women entrepreneurs across Africa by creating and consolidating networks at all levels, from sub-regional right through to continental. This structure aims to unify and amplify the voices of women entrepreneurs, giving them a stronger representation in matters of policy development and economic empowerment.
“Nothing about women, without women,” she said, meaning that women must be present when decisions are being made that affect them.
She said that alignment with the NABW will ensure that Tanzanian women have access to greater opportunities – especially in the crucial sectors of agribusiness and oil, gas and mining – and will be able to demand that resources are allocated accordingly.
She encouraged the women’s associations to share the NABW’s vision with their own members, in order to mobilise a broad-based Tanzanian chapter which is representative of business women from different sectors and at different stages.
The participants expressed their satisfaction with the outcome of the meeting, saying that they understand now what NABW does, and are in agreement with its vision. They committed to sharing the information with their members and helping them to understand why it’s so important to work together.
One of the meeting’s key outcomes was the election of a 10-member steering committee, representing different associations, to drive the work of NABW Tanzania. In the forthcoming months the associations that were present will meet with their members, present NABW to them, and collect contact information that can be used later to map the membership of NABW Tanzania.
The steering committee will then sit down in September to develop a work plan for NABW that will include ongoing mobilisation of additional members and mapping of the membership. The Trust will continue to support them in refining the work plan and mobilising resources to implement it.