On 10th February, 2015 the Tanzanian Minister of Community Development, Gender and Children Honourable Sophia Simba signed the Girl Summit Charter on behalf of the Government of Tanzania. The signing by the Minister was supported by the British High Commissioner to Tanzania, Ms. Dianna Melrose and the UNFPA Representative Dr. Natalia Kanem.
The signing of the Charter comes following the June 2014 Girl Summit held in London. Tanzania national priorities are ending child marriage and FGM. are national priorities for, which has one of the highest child marriage rates in the world with almost two out of five Tanzanian girls married before their 18th birthday. Tanzania has undertake work to support the Girl Summit including a National Female Genital Mutilation Forum (FGM) held 6 and 7 February 2015 to help end FGM and in August the launch of the national campaign Child Marriage-Free Zone.
During the signing Minister Sophia Simba emphasized that, “the government of the United Republic of Tanzania is fully committed to ensure that FGM comes to an end so that our girls can enjoy their happy life free from lifelong psychological and health stress which the cut girls endure. Also as a country, we will ensure that no girl will be married before eighteen especially after our new 2014 proposed constitution is approved and all discriminatory laws are repealed. I urge all ministries and agencies, CSOs and other stakeholders including politicians to make ending FGM and child marriage their priority agenda”.
While 2014 saw the first public declarations against FGM in Mara region, the practice continues there and notably in Manyara, Arusha, Dodoma and Singida. This high-level signing event is expected to further stimulate structured collaboration for better results for adolescent girls and particularly, a sustained and comprehensive advocacy around the issue of child marriage.
The British High Commissioner, Ms Dianna Melrose congratulated the Tanzanian government on showing its commitment to end Female Genital Mutilation and Child, Early and Forced Marriage by signing the Charter. “It’s a pleasure to be here to witness Hon Minister Sophia Simba signing the Girl Summit Charter. The UK has put girls and women at the heart of international development, and we are working across government departments to empower women and girls. It is great to see Tanzania adding its voice to these efforts and reinforcing the message that child marriage and FGM are not acceptable in any part of this country. Working together we can bring an end to these practices and ensure that all Tanzanian girls are able to fulfil their full potential free from violence.” said the British High Commissioner, Ms Dianna Melrose.
Speaking at the signing event, Dr. Natalia Kanem the UNFPA Representative noted that: “The momentum is building! We already have so much evidence of the fact that the public opinion in Tanzania is against child marriage, and FGM is against the law. The young women and men in Tanzania are counting on future leaders to bravely stand up for what is right. With strong leadership eradicating the practices can be achieved in just a short few years.”
As per UN Secretary General: “Empowering girls, ensuring their human rights and addressing the discrimination and violence they face are essential to progress for the whole human family.”