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Tanzanian youths take  child marriages head on

Tanzanian youths take child marriages head on

YOUNG people from across Tanzania are joining the business, faith, and civil society leaders, sports stars, media personalities, as well as UNICEF and other agencies, to launch BINTI, a bold campaign to end child marriage in the country.

The aim is to rally public support to increase girls’ marriage age and change societal perceptions about the importance of the girl child.

“The time is now to address the social norms that hinder us from fulfilling our life dreams,” says Nancy Kasembo (17), a young person from Shinyanga and Chair of the Junior Council of the United Republic of Tanzania (JCURT). “As young people, we have a chance to make Tanzania a place where every child is loved, protected, and given their rights to blossom.” BINTI is a call to action.

It urges parents and communities to delay contracting marriages for their daughters’ under-18 years and to support girls to transition to secondary schools to acquire knowledge and skills that will equip them for a prosperous future and help address gender inequality.

“There are negative impacts not just to the girl child and not just to women, but to the nation. I urge that we end child marriage because of the negative effects – a girl’s life is destroyed completely,” said Bishop Dr Stanley Hotayi of the Anglican Church, Diocese of Arusha and First Vice-President of the Christian Council Tanzania.

Bishop Dr Hotayi continues “my fellow Tanzanians, this is everyone’s responsibility to implement this matter, not just one person. Together we will end child marriage.” An estimated three in ten women in Tanzania got married as children, making it home to the 11th largest number of child brides worldwide.

“The issue of child marriage in Tanzania is overdue for change. And there are two aspects, the Law of Marriage Act, which needs to be amended, and the practice itself. It’s not a simple issue, because there are many drivers that push families into child marriage, such as poverty.

We need to keep going until the law is amended and until practices and drivers change,” said Rebeca Gyumi, Executive Director of the Msichana Initiative. The key action for the BINTI campaign is the signing of a pledge to help prevent child marriage in families and communities by not participating in it.

The PLEDGE is a simple but definitive action taken online, offline, via SMS, or U-Report and shared through social media as an act of commitment to stop child marriages in Tanzania.

“We owe every Tanzanian child, irrespective of gender, the right to education, health, and protection, and this campaign which intends to mobilize action to end child marriage in our country is truly welcome and very timely,” said Sophia Byanaku, Co-Founder of Doctors Plaza Polyclinic and influential leader.

With nearly 60 million population and more than 50 percent under 18 years, Tanzania is experiencing increasing demands for quality education, improved healthcare and growing challenges for young people to get employment, among other bottlenecks.

“We need to take a closer look at the opportunities that girls in Tanzania are missing out on due to child marriage,” said Shalini Bahuguna, UNICEF Tanzania Representative. “When girls are conditioned to expect to sacrifice their learning, childhood, and dreams in order to get married, it’s damaging to their mental health, and they are exposed to a cycle of violence, exploitation, health challenges, and poverty.

They cannot fulfill their full potential and contribute meaningfully to society.” Preventing child marriage is an entry point to addressing broader issues around children and young peoples’ aspirations and life opportunities, the value of girls in society, breaking the intergenerational cycle of poverty, and ensuring the roles of young people as agents of change.

“If I was married off when I was still a child, there is no way I would’ve had the opportunities I’ve had so far. As a young Tanzanian, who is fortunate enough to be able to do what I do, I cannot imagine the heartache and sadness that so many young girls must be feeling right now, stuck in a marriage as a child. It’s not right. Girls should be playing with their friends, finishing school, and making a name for themselves in this great nation of ours”, says Meena Ally, a radio presenter and media personality.

“As a football player, I know that it would’ve been impossible for me to pursue and fulfill my dreams if I was married as a child. I want every girl in Tanzania to be given the same chance I was given, to pursue their future, free from fear of child marriage”, says Zaiyonce Karabani, Fountain Gate Princess football player.

Binti, which is Kiswahili for “daughter”, is an opensource campaign designed to engage people across Tanzania to pledge to end child marriage by not participating in the marriage of a child. Binti is a fictional character, representing all daughters in Tanzania who want to grow up and reach their full potential.

“It’s important that we take a stand now for every young girl in Tanzania. Everyone has something to offer in this fight: the government, civil society, religious leaders, families, and communities. It can’t be an independent girl and woman’s fight alone.

It must be a unanimous fight by all, especially men—our fathers, brothers, and sons to push against these trends and stale narratives,” says Doris Mollel, Founder of Dorris Mollel Foundation.

How TGNP transformed people  into gender-centred development

A PROJECT to encourage citizens to participate ...

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Author: DAILYNEWS REPORTER

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