Tanzania: Women's representation quotas

Ruth Meena 2009 "Women Participation in Positions of Power and Influence in Tanzania", [www] http://www.redet.udsm.ac.tz/documents_storage/2009-8-19-11-34-23_womenparticipationinpositionsofpower.pdf [PDF document, opens new window] (accessed 31 Aug 2010).

Rose Shayo 2005 http://www.eisa.org.za/PDF/OP34.pdf. EISA OCCASIONAL PAPER NUMBER 34, July 2005 Page 1 EISA OCCASIONAL PAPER NUMBER 34, July 2005 - 1 - Women Participation in Party Politics during the Multiparty Era in Africa The Case of Tanzania

Updated May 2008

While generally giving the appearance of gender neutrality, the language of the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania (1977) is masculine, with the masculine pronoun "embracing the feminine"; for instance Article 12(2), the equality clause reads: "Every person is entitled to recognition and respect for his dignity". The equality before the law clause, Article 13 prohibits discrimination of a whole list of groups and classes, but fails to mention women specifically: "nationality, tribe, place of origin, political opinion, colour, religion or station in life". The word "gender" appears only once in the Constitution (1977, Article 20(1)(a)(ii)), in the context of prohibiting political parties that aim at furthering particularistic interests; amongst these is gender.

Union's National Assembly quotas

Nevertheless, the Constitution makes special provisions to ensure the substantial representation of women in the sole house of parliament, the National Assembly. Indeed, even prior to the first multi-party democracy elections in 1995 women, along with other special interest groups such as the youth, the soldiers and workers, were allocated special seats in parliament (Meena 2003, 2). Ruth Meena (2003, 2) notes, however, that "the initial objective of these special seats for women and other groups was not to redress a historic imbalance, which had excluded them from parliament, but rather to 'add' more voices, to enhance the representation of varied interests under a one-party regime".

The bulk of the members in the 1995 National Assembly were elected from single-member constituency seats, but women were allocated additional seats up to at least 15% of the other seats combined, in terms of Article 66.(1)(b). When added with other seats occupied by women, the total representation of women rose to 16.73%. (see Women's representation in the National Assembly) The overwhelming majority of the women in Parliament came thus through the quota seats, and few were elected from constituencies. According to Meena (2003, 3): "The introduction of special seats for women did not lead to an increased number of women in parliament. As a matter of fact, it might have impacted negatively on their chances of entering parliament via the normal constituency channel". From 1985 to 2000, therefore, 95 percent of female MPs entered the legislature via the special seats arrangement (Meena 2003, 3). Nevertheless, the percentage of women in the National Assembly rose from 16.73% in 1995 to 21.51% in 2000 (see Women's representation in the National Assembly).

Article 66.(1)(b) and 78.(1) of the Constitution of 1977 provided that the seats allocated to women be distributed "on the basis of the proportional representation among the parties". In 1995 and in 2000 the seats were allocated roughly in proportion to the number of constituency seats won by each party in the National Assembly elections (National Electoral Commission (NEC) 1997, 66, 69, 70; National Electoral Commission 2001, 74, 76). For the 2005 election the Constitution was amended and the allocation regime was changed and the seats were allocated in proportion to the number of votes obtained, with a minimum vote threshold of 5% and at the same time the quota was raised to 30% (National Electoral Commission 2006, 75-76). Thus the representation of women rose to 31.60%.

Zanzibar's House of Representatives quotas

In general quotas for the representation of women in Zanzibar's House of Representatives have broadly followed the arrangements of the Union's National Assembly. In 1995 nine seats were allocated for the representation of women (13.64% of the total of all other seats; Lodge et al 2002, 413). For the 2000 elections the quota was raised to 20% and in 2005 to 30% (EISA 2006, 11). The allocation of women's seats amongst the parties is done in proportion to the number of constituency seats won, but only parties with more than 10% of the total seats in the House of Representatives qualify for women's seats (Constitution of Zanzibar 1984, Articles 64(c), 67).

Local government quotas

At local government level too, similar quotas were implemented, not constitutionally, but in terms of the Local Government (Urban Authorities Act) 1982 and the Local Government (District Authorities) Act 1982 (National Electoral Commission 2001, 77). For the first local government elections in 1994 a quota of 25% was set for women, but for the 2000 and 2005 elections the quota was raised to not less than one-third (Ballington et al 2001, 6) National Electoral Commission 2001, 77; 2006, 76). In the 1994, 2000 and 2005 local government elections the seats were allocated in rough proportion to the number of seats won by each party (Mushi 16, 17; National Electoral Commission 2001, 76-77).


BALLINGTON, J, DA SILVA, V AND POTTIE, D 2001 Tanzania Gender Observer Mission Report, EISA.

CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED REPUBLIC OF TANZANIA 1977 (CAP 2), [www] http://www.policeforce.go.tz/pdf/REPUBLIC.pdf, [PDF document, opens new window] (accessed 8 Mar 2010).


EISA 2006 Election Observer Mission Report Zanzibar Presidential, House of Representatives and Local Government Elections, 30 October 2005 [PDF document].

LODGE, T, KADIMA D & DAVID POTTIE (ed) 2002 Compendium of Elections in Southern Africa (2002).

MEENA, R 2003 "The Politics of Quotas in Tanzania" IN The Implementation of Quotas: African Experiences Conference, Pretoria, South Africa, 11-12 November 2003, [www] http://www.quotaproject.org/CS/CS_Tanzania_Meena_27_7_2004.pdf, [opens new window] (accessed 13 May 2007).

MUSHI, SS 1994 "The 1994 Local Government Elections: The Rules and the Results" African Review, 21(1 & 2).

NATIONAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION 1997 The Report of the National Electoral Commission on the 1995 Presidential and Parliamentary Elections.

NATIONAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION 2001 The Report of the National Electoral Commission on the 2000 Presidential, Parliamentary and Councillors' Elections.