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Here is how we celebrated women's day this year!

We spent this International Women’s Day at Haile Selassie Secondary School in Zanzibar with over 200 secondary school students, including adolescent girls and boys, as well as youths. Religious leaders and key stakeholders, such as government officials from various ministries, departments, and agencies responsible for gender, women, children, education, and law enforcement were also in attendance. Together, we celebrated the resilience, contributions, and achievements of women in Tanzania and across the globe.

The event was funded by the European Union and coordinated by a dedicated consortium implementing the ‘SASA MWISHO’ project, an initiative we we are proud to be part of. The occasion served as a platform to raise awareness on the socio-economic impact of child marriage and highlight the importance of gender equality in relation to factors associated with child marriage which is a key focus area of the project and the main objective of the event.

The discussions delved into the root causes and consequences of child marriage, highlighting its detrimental effects on children's rights, education, and socio-economic well-being.

The Guest of Honor Ms. Asya Idd Issa the Director of Secondary Education emphasised the importance of education and self-determination in breaking the cycle of child marriage and poverty, as well as the need to encourage reporting incidences of child marriage and any other forms of abuse through channels such as the National Child Helpline (116) and the local support services available in ZanzIbar. A key message that echoed throughout the event was the empowerment of young girls to pursue their dreams and aspirations.

When Ms. Amina Khalfan, Education Officer for Pre-& Primary Education took to the podium, a poignant moment arose when she questioned the rationale behind burdening children with the responsibilities of marriage, stating "Marriage is a lifelong commitment that requires maturity and understanding, it is a choice that should not be imposed upon children." A sentiment supported by our institution and fellow child rights activists. As a member of the Interfaith network, Ms. Amina also called out for collective efforts from all religious leaders in addressing child marriages.

Further inspiration flowed from Mr. Adil, a passionate youth activist, who urged students to fearlessly pursue their dreams, no matter how daunting the obstacles may seem. His empowering message encouraged them to view challenges as opportunities for growth, resilience, and self-discovery. He urged the boys to not rush into marriage at a young age for it takes a certain level of maturity and economic preparedness to take care of a family, attributes they will have in due time.

The day drew to a close with a resounding call to action, encapsulated in the phrase "Married by choice, not by chance." A message that underscores the importance of empowering young girls to make informed decisions about their futures and resist societal pressures.

Reflecting on this year's International Women's Day, we stand emboldened, united, and determined. Together, we have ignited conversations, fostered dialogue, and inspired tangible progress in the fight against child marriage in our beloved country. As we look ahead, let us continue to amplify the voices of the marginalised, advocate for gender equality, and work tirelessly towards a future where every child can thrive, unfettered by their circumstances



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