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Women and the Changing Urban Household Economy in Tanzania

  • Aili Mari Tripp

Women in Tanzania's largest city, Dar es Salaam, used to be described as ‘relatively inactive’ as regards paid work or self-employment.1 One study undertaken in 1971 found that only one-fifth of urban women were either working for wages (13 per cent) or earning their own sources of income (7 per cent).2 The situation could not have been more different in the late 1980s, with as many as 66 per cent in Dar es Salaam being self-employed. Although about the same proportion of women were in some kind of paid employment as during the previous decade, it appeared that since then many of them had been leaving their place of work to farm and to engage in small income-generating projects, known as miradi midogo midogo or shughuli ndogo ndogo in Kiswahili3.

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1 Bryceson, Deborah Fahy and Swantz, Marja-Liisa, ‘Women Workers in Dar es Salaam’, Bureau of Resource Assessment and Land Use Planning, University of Dar es Salaam, 1976;Swantz, Marja-Liisa, Women in Development: a creative role denied? The Case of Tanzania (London and New York, 1985), pp. 129–30; and Westergaard, Margaret, ‘Women and Work in Dar es Salaam’, Department of Sociology, University of Dar es Salaam, 1970, p. 7.

2 Sabot, Richard H., Economic Development and Urban Migration: Tanzania, 1900–1971 (Oxford, 1979), p. 92.

3 Ministry of Finance, Bureau of Statistics, Planning and Economic Affairs, Statistical Abstract (Dar es Salaam, 1984).

4 Tripp, Aili Mari, ‘The Informal Economy, Labor and State in Tanzania’, Midwest Political Science Association Annual Meeting, Chicago, 1989.

5 E.g. Little, Kenneth, African Women in Towns: an aspect of Africa's social revolution (Cambridge, 1973), p. 29, and Pellow, Deborah, Women in Accra: options for autonomy (Algonac, 1977), p. 26.

6 Sabot, op. cit. p. 92, and Swantz, op. cit. p. 130.

7 Robertson, Claire and Berger, Iris (eds.), Women and Class in Africa (New York, 1986), p. 17.

8 Weiner, Annette B., Women of Value, Men of Renown (Austin, 1976), pp. 228–9.

9 Obbo, Christine, African Women: their struggle for economic independence (London, 1980), pp. 102 and 156.

10 Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Affairs, Bureau of Statistics, 1988 Population Census: preliminary report (Dar es Salaam, 1989).

11 Kulaba, Saitiel, ‘Local Government and the Management of Urban Services in Tanzania’, in Stren, Richard E. and White, Rodney R. (eds.), African Cities in Crisis: managing rapid urban growth (Boulder, San Francisco, and London, 1989), p. 212, and Tibaijuka, Anna K., ‘The Impact of Structural Adjustment Programmes on Women: the case of Tanzania's Economic Recovery Programme’, Economic Research Bureau, University of Dar es Salaam, for the Canadian International Development Agency.

12 Ellis, Frank, ‘Relative Agricultural Process and the Urban Bias Model: a comparative analysis of Tanzania and Fiji’, in Journal of Development Studies (London), 20, 3, 1984, pp. 2851.

13 United Republic of Tanzania, , Economic Survey: 1979–1984 (Dar es Salaam, 1984).

14 International Labour Organisation Yearbook of Labour Statistics (Geneva, 1987), and Stein, Howard, ‘The Economics of the State and the IMF in Tanzania’, African Studies Association Meeting, Chicago, 1988, p. 18.

15 Bryceson, Deborah Fahy, ‘A Century of Food Supply in Dar es Salaam: from sumptuous suppers for the Sultan to maize meal for a million’, in Guyer, Jane I. (ed.), Feeding African Cities: studies in regional social history (Manchester, 1987), p. 174.

16 Leslie, J. A. K., A Survey of Dar es Salaam (Oxford, 1963), pp. 168–9 and 226; Olof Lindberg, quoted by Swantz, op. cit. p. 129; Mbilinyi, Marjorie, ‘This is an Unforgettable Business: colonial state intervention in urban Tanzania’, in Parpart, Jane L. and Staudt, K. A. (eds.), Women and the State in Africa (Boulder, 189), pp. 116–22.

17 Sabot, op. cit.

18 Westergaard, op. cit. p. 7.

19 Lindberg, quoted in Swantz, op. cit. p. 129.

20 Sabot, Richard, ‘Open Unemployment and the Employed Compound of Urban Surplus Labour’, Economic Research Bureau, University of Dar es Salaam, 1974, p. 8.

21 Bureau of Statistics, Planning and Economic Affairs, op. cit.

22 Bryceson, Deborah Fahy, ‘The Proletarianisation of Women in Tanzania’, in Review of African Political Economy (Sheffield), 17, 1980, pp. 20–1, and ‘Women's Proletarianisation and the Family Wage in Tanzania’, in Afshar, Haleh (ed.), Women, Work and Ideology in the Third World (New York, 1985), p. 142;and Swantz, op. cit. pp. 150–1.

23 International Labour Organisation, Basic Needs in Danger: a basic needs oriented development strategy for Tanzania (Addis Ababa, 1982), p. 270.

24 Leslie, op. cit. p. 226.

25 Swantz, op. cit. p. 141.

26 Reports of Bashemerewa, Vivian, Masaiganah, Mwajuma S., and Tungaraza, Frida D., compiled in Swantz, Marja-Liisa, ‘The Role of Women in Tanzanian Fishing Societies: a study of the socioeconomic context and the situation of women in three coastal fishing villages in Tanzania’, Institute of Development Studies, Women's Study Group, University of Dar es Salaam, 1986, pp. 84, 92, and 96.

27 Swantz, op. cit. pp. 55–6.

28 Shaidi, Leonard P., ‘Legal Conrol of Surplus Labour in Tanzania's Urban Centres’, Workshop on Social Problems in Eastern Africa, Arusha, 1987.

29 African Business (London), 12 1983, p. 59.

30 Kerner, Donna O., ‘“Hard Work” and the Informal Sector Trade in Tanzania’, in Clark, Gracia (ed.), Traders versus the State (Boulder, 1988), p. 53, and Daily News (Dar es Salaam), 2 05 1987.

31 Daily News, 2 May 1987.

* Department of Political Science, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois. The author is grateful to the United Nations World Institute for Development Economics Research in Helsinki for its financial support of the fieldwork on which this article is based.

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