Location and general information
Tanzania has one of the highest rates of child marriage globally, with over 37% of girls married before their 18th birthday. Early marriage not only has a significant impact on girls’ health, well-being and personal development, but every year more than 8,000 girls in Tanzania drop out of school due to child marriage and pregnancy. Moreover, the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) is closely tied to marriage in Tanzania. Complex social pressures can force girls into having the procedure, but it can be extremely dangerous. To give girls a future beyond an early marriage, and to enable them to say no to FGM, they need help in claiming their rights and changing the minds and attitudes of their communities. In this context, Plan International UK has set up a project to work specifically in the regions of Geita and Mara. In Mara 40% of girls are subjected to FGM; significantly above the national average of 15%.
We are seeking to create real change in people’s attitudes towards girls and young women, to enable these individuals to exercise their rights and to have the potential to be more than just a wife or mother. To do this, we will engage the support of decision-makers and seek to change the minds of those in charge.
Additionally, in order to include the most at risk and most marginalised girls, namely those who have dropped out of school, the project is working with village leaders to identify girls living in remote areas with disabilities and without parental care. Girls are at the heart of this project. We will be working directly and extensively with them to give them the skills, knowledge, attitudes and power they need to make their own choices.
With the support of the UEFA Foundation for Children, and by engaging young people through football, the objective is to help girls raise their voices against the traditions which affect their rights. Reaching young people through peer support and young women through vocational training, we will work to create lasting change in several communities by engaging with men, women, leaders and government officials. The ultimate goal is to use football to end child marriage and FGM in Tanzania, as well as to empower girls and young women.
- Build a support network for girls by setting-up 49 girls’ clubs in 31 schools with the aim of creating a safe and supportive space for girls who are likely to face the challenge of traditional harmful practices.
- Encourage girls to raise their voices by delivering training in life skills to members of girls’ clubs during sessions, helping them to build self-esteem and self-worth.
- Bring issues onto the football pitch and into the open. 40 coaches (30% female) will be trained to deliver football drills for 1,470 girls and 620 boys. The events will use football to spark discussions and boost knowledge about early marriage and FGM. Generally speaking, football will be used to attract support.
- Turn influential women into champions of change. We aim to secure the support of female decision-makers and empower them to raise their voices against harmful practices.
- Give vulnerable girls the chance to earn a living. In parallel with working alongside influential women, 160 of the most marginalised girls and women aged 15-24 will take part in a livelihoods development scheme. They will be trained in starting their own businesses and with their own independent income they will be better-equipped to negotiate the pressures of early marriage.
- Help communities support young people to reject FGM and early marriage. We are seeking to create real change in people’s attitudes towards girls and young women, so that these individuals can exercise their rights and have the potential to be more than just a wife or mother. To do this, we will engage the support of decision-makers and endeavour to change the minds of those in charge.
- Effectively engage with communities and gain government support. To achieve real and lasting change, it is vital that local leaders work with the project. We will meet with the key decision-makers at district, ward and village level to introduce the project and ensure their support. We will make everyone aware of the relevant policies and laws about children’s rights and examine the impact of early marriage and FGM on girls and their communities.
- Strengthen and support local systems for protecting girls. This will be achieved through establishing and supporting child protection teams at government level, collaborating with these teams to maximise their effectiveness, and influencing the government’s decisions by working closely with national and district authorities.
In total, 1,470 girls will be helped to raise their voices against the traditions which affect their rights. Through peer support networks we will reach a further 2,100 young people, and 160 young women will be provided with vocational training.
Overall, the objective is to create lasting change in 31 communities by engaging with leaders and government officials. The project has been developed with local partners and has a clear definition of the roles and responsibilities, thus ensuring sustainability of the aims and achievements. The expected results will be to spread awareness, knowledge and support among young people, and girls and women will be empowered to make informed decisions about child marriage and FGM.