Dr. Asha-Rose Mtengeti

Tanzania, United Republic of

Politician, lawyer, United Nations Secretary-General's Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa

DAAD Scholarship 1988–1989

Dr. Asha-Rose Mtengeti by Rune Stoltz Bertinussen/Justis- og politidepartementet (Children's house in Tromsø) [CC BY 2.0] via Wikimedia Commons

In January 2006, lawyer Asha-Rose Mtengeti-Migiro, not yet 50 years of age, assumed one of the most powerful positions in the United Republic of Tanzania. As member of the ruling party Chama cha Mapinduzi (Party of the Revolution, CCM) she was appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs of the then newly elected government under President Jakaya Kikwete.

We still have a long way to go before we reach equality in all areas of life, but we will succeed.
Asha-Rose Mtengeti-Migiro

Mtengeti-Migiro's academic and professional career has taken her all over the world. Born in the southern Tanzanian city of Songea in 1956, she read law at the University of Dar es Salaam. In 1988, she received a DAAD Scholarship to study at the University of Constance, where she completed her doctorate in 1992. She then returned to the University of Dar es Salaam to head the Department of Constitutional and Administrative Law, and later the Department of Civil and Criminal Law. During her time in Germany she also held a visiting lectureship at the University of Oslo’s Faculty of Women's Rights.

The dedicated lawyer acquired an international reputation as a guest lecturer in the United States and at seminars on Women's and Human Rights in Ireland. She is convinced that adequate participation by Tanzanian women in positions of political and economic responsibility is crucial to the country's development: “We still have a long and difficult way to go,” she says. She has also made a name for herself by taking part in various projects of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, and this work has helped her keep in touch with Germany. She joined the Tanzanian Commission for Law Reform in 1997 and, one year later, the newly established Constitutional Review Commission, which aims to fight corruption and advance reforms, among other objectives. She always stands up for children’s and women’s rights in her official positions and as a member of law societies and women’s organisations.

In August 2000, Asha-Rose Mtengeti-Migiro was elected as a member of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, and two months later as a member of the Tanzanian Parliament. Shortly afterwards, she was appointed Minister for Community Development, Gender and Children. She is well aware of the development problems of her country, which is still ranked one of the world’s poorest. The mother of two believes that “improving the living conditions in our communities is our main duty”. With its subsistence economy, Tanzania still suffers from corruption and is one of the biggest recipients of development aid.

Mtengeti-Migiro was Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations from 2007 to 2012. Until August 2013, she worked as the United Nations Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa. She has been Tanzania’s Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs since 2014 and joined the contest for the successor to President Jakaya Kikwete in 2015.