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Horticulture industry

In Tanzania the Women@Work Campaign focuses on cut flowers, vegetables (green/French beans) and avocado production. There are around 30 farms in these chains which export their produce. Green beans are the single largest horticultural foreign exchange earner for Tanzania. Avocado production has increased, gradually taking the place of coffee production. Avocado production, like green beans production, relies heavily on out-growers. The cut flower sector in Tanzania is established, with a stable production chain into Europe. The flower sector in Tanzania employs approximately 7,000 workers directly (working in the firms).

Laws and regulations

Comparatively, Tanzania has a supportive policy and legal framework that promotes decent work for women and provides for equal opportunity and treatment, equal remuneration for work of equal value, maternity and paternal leave, prevention and redress of all forms of violence against women.However, the implementation of the laws and policies has been limited for several reasons: the absence of or inadequacy of enforcement mechanisms by government; lack of or inadequate monitoring and evaluation systems; and scant prioritization and resourcing for gender rights and labor protection. The lack of filtering down of these policies into horticultural firms impedes implementation at an institutional level. The political environment in Tanzania is steadily shrinking for advocacy work, as experienced by the work of labor unions, human rights organizations and the media.

Challenges for women workers

Despite women workers forming the majority of the workforce in the horticulture value chains, they are not equally represented in decision making positions. Women are preferred to men for employment in the cut flower, green beans and in avocado production because they occupy low positions, and are mostly unskilled and casual workers. Engaging workers as casual laborers bars them from accessing key employment benefits, including maternity leave and access to trade unions. Workers in the horticultural sector are generally paid well below a living wage. The minimum wage in the agriculture sector, including cut-flowers, is around 45 US dollars as set by the sectoral wage board; while a living wage is more than twice as much as that. 

According to the 2016 Hivos Baseline Survey Report, the horticulture firms that grow green beans and avocados were found to have weak affirmative action and/or reproductive health policies such as sexual harassment protection policy, which limits access to reproductive health benefits, knowledge and services. This has resulted in mistrusting available family planning services - in terms of health and safety - hence the majority of workers continue relying on traditional unreliable methods. Furthermore, there is a lack of a critical mass of women workers required for the agitation and promotion of decent labor practices.

Our work

The Women@Work campaign has established partnerships in Tanzania with two local organizations: Tanzania Women Lawyers Association (TAWLA) and Tanzania Plantation Agricultural Workers Union (TPAWU), through which advocacy for better work conditions is sustained.

TAWLA is working to create favorable and decent working conditions for women in the horticulture through advocacy for the adoption and enforcement of laws and policies that protect women workers against violations such as sexual harassment; to build the capacity of women workers to understand their rights and obligations of the employers; and to promote a culture of respect and observance of workers’ rights. 

Our accomplishments

  • Ten flower farms in Tanzania have adopted and implemented the model sexual harassment policy. 
  • The trade union TPAWU has carried out training in negotiation skills. As a result, workers feel more confident to negotiate for better working conditions. At one of the farms the workers bargained for an increase in annual leave days, an increase in salary and housing allowance, and an increase in maternity leave. 
  • TAWLA produces a radio program about decent work for women, which is broadcasted once per month on two different radio stations.
  • TPAWU has done 11 Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBAs) for workers in the horticulture.
  • More than 500 workers have been educated on the principles of decent work. 

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