Launch of the National Ending Child Marriage Campaign – “Child Marriage-Free Zone”

To support the United Republic of Tanzania end child marriage and support child brides, the Ministry of Community Development, Gender and Children (MCGDC) in collaboration with UNFPA Tanzania, Graça Machel Trust (GMT), Children’s Dignity Forum (CDF), Tanzania Media Women Association (TAMWA), Mara regional authorities and Mara region CSOs among others are launching the National Ending Child Marriage Campaign.  
The campaign which is branded – “Child Marriage-Free Zone” aims to strengthen national dynamics for ending child marriage and ensuring the realization of rights of girls and women through interventions aimed at both the rights holders, i.e. the girls themselves and the duty bearers in Mara and nationally. Interventions that are being supported include national-level advocacy towards the review of discriminatory laws; supporting health, education and legal sectors to prevent and respond to all forms of discrimination against girls and women. In Mara specifically and in addition to this: increasing rights holders knowledge of child marriage and FGM through school-based clubs for the promotion of life skills; training of duty bearers such as community and religious leaders, police and judiciary in the rights of girls and women and gender based violence – including child marriage - prevention and response; community engagement interventions to change cultural norms that keep up harmful traditions of child marriage and FGM are being supported as a part of this campaign. Campaigners are calling for increased investments in strengthening institutions to protect girls and women, sexual and reproductive health and rights; increasing the minimum age of marriage to 18 years of age, and retaining girls in education by making secondary education compulsory for all. 
Tanzania has one of the highest child marriage prevalence rates in the world. On average, almost two out of five girls will be married before their 18th birthday.  In Africa over 42% of girls are married before they reach 18 years, with millions of girls given away to marriage before they reach puberty. 31 out of 41 countries in the world where prevalence rates of child marriage are more than 30% are in Africa. 
 “It is vital to invest in girls”, says Natalia Kanem, UNFPA Representative “Longer schooling, later marriage makes for a healthier and wealthier family. A girl who marries later is also more empowered to choose when she wants to have children and how many children she wants to have.” Concludes Dr. Kanem. 
Child marriage is a global problem that impedes the attainment of the key Millennium Development Goals in particular poverty, gender equality, child health, maternal health and HIV/AIDS. Political commitment is vital for creating the environment to end child marriage. 
“Tanzania’s brighter future depends on investment in programs that empower girls and young women to grow up healthy, well-educated, well-nourished protected from FGM and Child Marriage, the choice made now in terms of protecting and empowering girls and young women is the future investment in our families, communities and national at large” Koshuma Mtengeti, CDF Executive Director
"Ending child marriage is possible within one generation. This requires partnership and collaboration across such sectors as education, gender, health and justice. It must include girls and boys, their families, communities, religious and traditional leaders, governments, parliamentarians, civil society, media and others. It is time to end the practice of child marriage. Every day counts. Every action counts. Every girl counts." Graça Machel, GMT Chairperson.
The launch event is also going to engage Mara based rights-holders at a simultaneous local event in Tarime District coordinated by CDF and district of Tarime through a mobile technology.