HISTORY OF THE TGNP GENDER FESTIVAL
The 1996 Gender Festival was the first of its kind to be organized by TGNP, with over 400 people from nearly every region of Tanzania and different countries. These participants were representing different NGOs, CBOs, and development agencies. The gender festival has been a four-day event from the start, the same basic objective was developed during this first festival. The general theme was: Gender, Democracy and Development, was adopted for the 1996 Festival and it was decided it should remain as the overall theme for all subsequent festivals.
The 1997 Gender Festival focused on “Gender, Democracy AND Development: Gender Equality and Equity in Resource Allocation, Particularly on Land, Education, Health and other social Sectors.” The conference aimed to influence land reform that were taking place during that period and to broaden participation in the Gender Budgeting Initiative (GBI), a programme advocating for gender equality and equity in resource allocation decision making .GF 1997 attracted more than 500 active participants.
The 1999 Gender Festival was successfully organized in September 1999 with the theme “Gender, Democracy and Development: Gender and Political Empowerment in the New Millennium.”Aiming to strengthen feminist and progressive engagement with formal politics prior to the 2000 national elections, GF 1999 attracted more than 600 participants with even greater participation from the African Region and beyond than in previous years. The participation of local level organizations (Councilors and members of Parliament) noticeably increased.
The 2001 Gender Festival was successfully organized in September 2001 with the theme “Gender Democracy and Development: Transformative Approaches for challenging Impoverishment.” This was meant to challenge mainstream discourse and macro-economic poverty reduction policy. GF 2001 attracted more than 900 participants with even greater participation from the Africa Region and beyond. Also noticed was increased participation of local level organizations (from the IGNs, districts and region), man and women political leaders, counsellors and Members of Parliament.
The 2003 Gender Festival was successfully organized in September 2003 with the theme “Gender, Democracy and Development: An Alternative World is Possible”. This festival highlighted countervailing voices and alternative development models which challenged the dominant neo-liberal discourse the conference attracted more than 1500 participants from the African Region and beyond and continued to expand the participation of local level grassroots and outreach group organizations (from the IGNs district and regions) men and women political leaders, councilors and Member of Parliament.
The 2005 Gender Festival maintained the overall theme of “Gender Democracy and Development” with specific focus on popular struggles for an alternative world. The main focus was on examples of concrete struggles at different levels to make change happen especially those at grassroots level. GF 2005 attracted more than 2000 participants throughout the course of the 4-days events, from all places, including the African region and beyond. The countries represented include Kenya, Sudan, South Africa, Nigeria, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Burundi, Uganda, United States, and the United Kingdom. The conference also noticed the higher increase of local participation from a wide range of different backgrounds.
The 2007 Gender Festival focused on Gender, Democracy and Development as the overall theme while the year`s specific theme was “African Feminist Struggles in Context of Globalization”.GF 2007 provided space to strengthen joint understanding of African feminist discourse through intensive reflection on concrete example of loan /national/ regional Africa feminist struggles. More than 3000 women and men participated, and as in previous years, include people from grassroots, national and regional levels.
The 2009 Gender Festival theme was Gender, Development and Development: Making Resources Work for Marginalized Women. It focused on struggles and initiatives of grassroots and other marginalized women, to ensure that they have equal access and control of resources at all levels, in the context of the Global economic and Financial crisis. The scramble of African resources, including land water forests minerals, oil natural gas by multi-national corporations and their government is threatening the livelihoods and welfare of the majority of people and women most of all. The international financial institutions, including Word Bank and IMF along with other donors continue to impose neoliberal conditionalities on African governments. Feminist and other pan African activists demand an alternative macro-economic framework, to liberate Africa economically and politically. The transformative feminist movement is in the frontline of this struggle, because marginalized Women are the most exploited and oppressed and are crucial to linking private and public struggles into one broad movement for change.
The 2011 Gender Festival theme was: Gender, Democracy and Development: Land, Labor and Livelihoods. The 2011 Gender Festival took place at a momentous time in Tanzania and African history, and was attended by more than 4,000 participants. On one hand the plunder of natural resource (land, minerals, water, forests) by multinational corporations has grown since 2008 with the support of African Governments including our own and donor partners. At the same time popular resistance against exploitation has also grown. Fifty years after independence (1961-2011), Tanzania is not economically, politically, socially, militarily, religiously or culturally free! The Tanzanian state remains under Western domination, direct and indirect through donor dependence and multinational corporations, have deepened their control over macro- economic policies.
The 2013 Gender Festival celebrated and reflected on twenty years of transformative feminist struggle for women’s rights, gender equality/ equity and social justice, in general, and the specific contribution of TGNP MTANDAO to these struggles. The 2013 festival discussed “Where Are We, Where Are We Going?”, and was a space to discuss the goals and priorities of the organization.
The 2015 Gender Festival had a theme of: “Gender, Democracy and Development: Transformation of Oppressive Systems is Inevitable” The 2015 festival was organised by the Gender Training Institute (GTI) and TGNP Mtandao together with FemAct. The festival was based on democracy and development strategising on how to ensure gender inequalities can be eliminated.