Hon. Safia Mkama (Currently a Councillor, Buswelu ward, Ilemela, Mwanza)
Safia started her political career in 2005-2012 as a chairperson of the CCM’s women’s wing popularly known as UWT in Buswelu, Ilemela District, and Mwanza region. In 2013 she was promoted to the position of the Chairperson of the UWT of Ilemela District and in 2014 she became chairperson of the CCM branch of ILEMELA. In 2015 she competed for the council seat of Buswelu Ward and won.
Factors contributing to her political career
Safia is of the view that her parents provided a strong foundation in her journey to political career through supporting her to go to school. Her various leadership positions within the UWT have facilitated her journey to the current position. Exposure to various trainings has also facilitated her mobility generally and in specific this year’s success as narrated in the following section
The impact of Fahamu Ongea Sikilizwa II (FOSII) Training
Hon. Safia had attended a number of trainings organised by civil society prior to attending the FOSII training. These included training organised by TGNP, UWT and finally FoSII. She was of the view that the training imparted certain skills which were useful in her career path. For instance, communication skills were useful particularly in areas of developing strategic messages and public speaking skills. Fundraising skills was another area which she needed support. Although she had been fundraising for other community based functions such as weddings, burials, or religious based activities she never thought that such skills could have been utilised in fundraising for her campaigns. Additionally, the training enabled her to further re-discover her leadership potentials. Finally, the network which has resulted from this process has been considered by Safia as a tool for sharing experiences, challenges as well as for collective social support.
Political parties do not set aside funds to support women whom they screen to compete for elections. Safia had to raise all the needed financial resources from her own sources. Hon. Safia shared that she had started saving money bit by bit for the last three years and by election time she had money which needed just a little top up from friends to conduct a modest campaign.
According to her, if women do their ground work properly, they do not need to spend so much as men do during the campaign.
The other challenge observed by Hon. Safia is that electoral campaigns are very hostile to women. As a woman one has to learn to withstand the vulgar language which is intended to humiliate and pull down women who dare to challenge men in the electoral competitions.
There is persistence of a political culture within the voters that political spaces are men’s domain and therefore, women fall victim to it. When women stand to oppose this, they need to use extra energy to convince the voters that they will deliver.
Finally, the cost of election for individual candidates is becoming more unbearable by women. If this is not arrested, only rich men and very few women will be able to compete for electoral positions.
Training and capacity building programs should be continuous and organised on a long term basis.
More awareness programs targeting both men and women to realise the added value which women bring in political positions.
Potential candidates should be supported to plan ahead particularly in raising their own money to meet the electoral expenses.
Political parties to assume a more proactive role in supporting women who have been screened as candidates.