While in the field collecting data, one of the youth champions working on the Citizens Report in Tanzania met a little girl by the name of Amina Rashid* (5). Amina is from a small village called Cholesamvula, outside Kisarawe town, Tanzania where the tradition of child marriage is still being commonly practiced.
When asked what she would like to be when she grows up, Amina expressed that she would like to be a mwali. Mwali is a Swahili word traditionally used to refer to little girls who get to be trained to become brides / wives just before they reach puberty stage.
Amina represents many little girls in communities that still practice early child marriage. Their future is endangered. Their mind-sets are affected. All they have been taught is that as a girl, marriage is the only way out of poverty. For many families across Tanzania, child marriage is regarded as a way of securing financial security for themselves and their daughters.
“The worse thing is that even the mothers encourage their daughters to look forward to becoming a mwali so that they can get married,” said Lilian Mmbaga, our youth champion based in Tanzania.
It is quite evident that child marriage has far-reaching negative impacts on girls and women. When they get married, these girls are then deprived of their fundamental rights to health, education and safety.
This is why, through the work done as part of the Citizens Report initiative, African Monitor continues to work with citizens’ groups and youth champions, to engage decision makers to demand delivery and accelerate policy change; having identified targeted outcomes for policy influencing to attain poverty eradication, reduce inequality and improve education.
According to Human Rights Watch in Tanzania, 4 out of 10 girls are married before their 18th birthday. A study by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) estimated that 37 percent of Tanzanian women aged 20-24 years were first married or in union before the age of 18. Human Rights Watch has also documented cases in which girls as young as seven years old were married.
It is important that children are recognised in the law as being children and that they are accorded the full protection of the law.
*Amina Rashid not her real name*