You are here

Government ramps up efforts to tackle female genital mutilation, child marriage and teenage pregnancies

Multi-stakeholder participation at the National Dialogue

The Government of the United Republic of Tanzania reiterated its commitment to end FGM, child marriage and teenage pregnancies in a three-day National Dialogue held in the run up to the International Day of the Girl Child on 11 October, 2018.  Led by the Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, and supported by the European Delegation to Tanzania (EU) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA),  Parliamentarians, Regional Commissioners, INOs, NGOs, civil society organizations and representatives of higher learning and research institutions attended the Dialogue, reflecting the multi-stakeholder collaboration that will be essential to consign these practices to history.

Representatives from the Anti FGM Board, Kenya and UN Women Regional Office, Kenya, also shared experiences and evidence of combatting these practices, calling for a supportive legal environment, highlighting that these are issues that go beyond Tanzania and require regional solutions.

National and international commitments to end all forms of violence agaist women and children

The government is committed to ending all forms of violence against women and girls reflected by their signatory to several international treaties and the far-reaching National Plan of Action to End Violence against Women and Children (2017/18 - 2021/22), and progress is being  made.  The prevalence of FGM has decreased from 18 per cent to 10 per cent among Tanzanian women aged 15 to 49.  Child marriage statistics, however, remain high with one in three Tanzanian girls marrying before the age of 18.  Tanzania also has one of the highest adolescent birth rates in the world  - in 2016 one in four adolescents aged 15 to 19 were either pregnant or had given birth.  

Interventions at the community level

Participants at the Dialogue discussed promising interventions, consolidated good practices and committed to action to end all forms of harmful practices that affect the women and girls of Tanzania, with a specific focus on developing action plans for six regions of Tanzania with the highest prevalence of these practices.



Vocational training facilitates young women's economic empowerment

NGOs showcased their activities including the establishment of Knowledge Centres that provide a common platform to drive socioeconomic change and focus on both prevention and response to all forms of gender-based violence. The centres also influence gender-responsive resource allocation at the local level; in Shinyanga Region this has improved maternal and child health services, and a dedicated budget has been allocated to support girls with free sanitary pads in schools. Other initiatives include self-defence classes and alternative rites of passage for young girls at risk of FGM that do not involve cutting.

Scaling up promising interventions

Hon. Ummy Mwalimu, Minister of Health Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, issued a directive during her keynote speech to all heads of primary and secondary schools to keep a record of girls who drop out of school due to early marriage and teenage pregnancy, noting that: “Education is the best way to change the life of a girl child for the better.”  The Minister  also directed regional and district hospitals to allocate a special unit at their facilities to ensure survivors of gender and child-related violence are treated promptly and added that no fees were to be paid by these patients. She emphasized that the government would not hesitate to strike off any Doctor who refused to treat children and women who had experienced sexual violence.

Hon. Faustine Ndugulile, Deputy Minister of Health, Community Development, Gender and Children, unveiled the government’s plans to establish additional one stop centres in areas where there is a high prevalence of FGM where police, health and psychological services will be available to survivors of gender-based violence. He reiterated the government’s commitment to take on board all resolutions reached at the Dialogue, one of which is to establish Gender and Children’s desks at all police stations across the country; there are currently 420 desks. He also called on district administrative secretaries from those regions with the highest prevalence of FGM, child marriage and teenage pregnancies to establish special committees to protect women and girls.

Putting words into action

Now the National Dialogue has ended the real work begins. Tanzania is moving towards middle-income status but there can and will be no sustainable development if the fruits of development are not equitably shared, including among women and girls.  More importantly FGM, child marriage and teenage pregnancies intersect to rob millions of young girls around the world of their childhood every year. Jacqueline Mahon, Country Representative, UNFPA, emphasized that: “All of us need to join hands and commit to action to give back to young girls their choices, their dreams, their futures and their childhoods.”

 1. Tanzania Demographic and Health Survey 2015/16.
 2. Tanzania Demographic and Health Survey 2015/16.
 3. The State of World Population 2018 (UNFPA) reports that 132 of every 1,000 live births are to adolescents.
 4. Tanzania Demographic and Health Survey 2015/16.