August 26,2014 The National Ending Child Marriage Campaign launched in Dar es Salaam Graça Machel speaking at the launch of the National Ending Child Marriage campaign in Dar es Salaam The Ministry of Community Development, Gender and Children in collaboration with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Tanzania Media Women’s Association (TAMWA), Graça Machel Trust (GMT), Children’s Dignity Forum (CDF) and the Tanzania Ending Child Marriage Network (TECMN) launched a National Ending Child Marriage campaign branded “Child Marriage Free Zone”. The campaign is aimed at strengthening national dynamics for ending child marriage and ensuring that girls in the country get their rights.
Graca Machel, founder of the Graca Machel Trust, launched the campaign and said the fact that Tanzania was in the frontline in the African liberation against colonialists, it should also take the lead in the fight against gender violence. She said the on-going constitutional making in Tanzania is an opportunity to review and redress oppressive laws on women and children. She called for better strategies in devising the type of messages and activities that are used in the fight against child marriage saying communities are not homogenous and that what might work in Mwanza will not necessarily work in Iringa. Ms Machel added that for a long time the focus has been on the community as a whole while ignoring the fact that it is the mother and father who play an important role in child marriage process. Retired, Third phase President, Benjamin Mkapa who was also in attendance said girls have constitutional rights that ought to be protected and that leaders must respect and observe girls’ rights. The Minister of Community Development, Gender and Children Minister, Sophia Simba welcomed participants to the launch and said that child marriage is a cross cutting issue and the government in its efforts to fight child marriage the has been implementing the Maputo Protocol which recognizes a child as a person who is below 18 years. MS Simba added that the government has put in place numerous initiatives to save girls and women including the 2015 vision that incorporated gender equality as a national priority issue. Others are the child the policy of 2009 and Sexual Offences Special Provision Act (SOSPA) of 1998. The campaign will initially focus on Tarime district, Mara region and the experience gained will be used in the fight against child marriage in Tanzania. Tanzania is among 20 leading countries in child marriage cases with statistics showing that for every five girls, two are married under the age of 18. Ending Child Marriage is among TAMWA’s strategies against Gender Based Violence.