COMMEMORATION OF THE INTERNATIONAL DAY OF THE GIRL CHILD “Empower the Girl Child: End Female Genital Mutilation, Child Marriages and Teen Pregnancies”
On the International Day of the Girl Child, Legal and Human Rights Centre joins the international community to promote rights of the girl child in Tanzania. The day is commemorated on October 11 each year since it was launched in 2012 by United Nations. The main objective of the commemoration is to raise awareness on challenges facing girls around the world including issues around gender inequality; harmful cultural practices like child marriage, teen pregnancy, female genital mutilation; gender based violence; sexual violence; forced labour; unemployment just to mention but few.
This year’s commemoration is marked with the international theme “WITH HER: A SKILLED GIRL FORCE” focusing on empowering girls to develop their skills and secure decent jobs. The national theme in 2018 for Tanzania is “Imarisha Uwezo wa Mtoto wa Kike: Tokomeza Ukeketaji Mimba na Ndoa za Utotoni” literally meaning Empower the Girl Child: End Female Genital Mutilation, Child Marriages and Teen Pregnancies.
To enhance rights of girls, LHRC has been spearheading a number of endeavours aiming at advocacy for reforms of laws and policies as well as change of harmful practices that hinder girls from enjoying their rights. LHRC contributed to enactment of the Law of the Child 2009 and keeps campaigning for the reform of the Law of Marriage 1971 that allow girl under 18 to be married. Similarly, LHRC has been empowering girls through human rights clubs in schools to understand and demand for their rights whenever violated; mass education has been a weapon to raising awareness to the general public with the motive of sensitising the public to refrain from harmful cultural practices that affect girls rights.
At a recent time, LHRC implements various projects to empower girls and the general public including Ending Female Genital Mutilation Project in Serengeti district in Mara region which aims at sensitising the public to eradicate FGM practices. Other intervention includes implementation of the Dreams Innovation Challenge Project in Kahama Township Council and Shinyanga Municipal Council aiming at empowering adolescent girls and young women on legal and human rights awareness for them to be able to hold the society accountable for improved quality of HIV health services.
Despite the initiatives by LHRC and other stakeholders, still girls suffer numbers of challenges in Tanzania. The Legal and Human Rights’s Mid-Year Report 2018 recorded an increase in violence against children that includes girls; an average of 394 children were raped each month making a total of 2365 cases of rape from January to June 2018 compared to 759 the same period in 2017. Issues of early forced marriages and teen pregnancies to school girls were also reported.
Henceforth, LHRC calls for every community member including men and boys to strongly support protection and promotion of the girl child in Tanzania.
LHRC encourages girls to stand up and speak up about violence and any discrimination they encounter and call for justice.
LHRC urges the government to guarantee girls right through amendment of discriminative laws including the Law of Marriage 1971 which allows child marriage and promote right to education by encouraging reentry policy for girls affected by teenage pregnancies when in school.
Jointly, we should encourage friendly structures and spaces for girls to voice out and break the silence on violence from the family level, community to national level.
LHRC believes that for any society to attain sustainable and equitable developments equality between men and women is of paramount importance.