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  • Faith Mkony

The International Day of the Girl Child 2023

Updated: Nov 17, 2023

Celebrating the 11th International Day of the Girl Child (IDGC), we continue to create platforms that amplify girls' voices. We envision a Tanzania free of traditions that perpetuate acts of violence against girls and communities that support and advocate for their wellbeing.

In recent years, the world has witnessed girls pushing past boundaries and barriers posed by stereotypes that no longer serve them. As an institution that subscribes to these ideas, together with other like-minded organisations, we organized a few events in Morogoro, Zanzibar, and Dar-es-salaam to not only celebrate this day but also confront the unique challenges hindering girls from reaching their full potential.

In Dar es Salaam; The Girl Agenda Forum.

For the second time, we partnered with three prominent girls' rights organisations Flaviana Matata Foundation, Msichana Initiative Organisation, and Tai Tanzania to collectively collaborate and bring together girls from different backgrounds to take part in the Girl Agenda Forum. A platform whose goal is to put girls at the center of discussions, raising their voices to draw attention to their issues and come up with applicable recommendations,

Photo: Minister Gwajima (responsible for gender, women & children) joined the festivities at Mlimani City in Dar es Salaam on October 11th, capturing a moment with girls taking a selfie.

This year, we embraced the theme; “Who am I? Reframing Norms and Practices in Building Confident Girls”, highlighting the importance of challenging existing stereotypes that dictate the identities of girls. This collective effort sought to celebrate the accomplishments of Tanzanian girls and bolster their confidence as future leaders and change-makers.

The Girl Agenda Forum was launched on the 10th of October by TEN/MET’s National Chairperson and the Executive Director of Shule Direct, Ms. Faraja Nyalandu at a sports day event that was also graced by the Minister for Social Development, Gender, Women, and Special Groups, Dr. Dorothy Gwajima at the Jakaya Kikwete Youth Park in Dar es Salaam. The event brought together girls ages 14 – and 22 from Zanzibar and the Mainland regions of Kongwa, Nzega, Dodoma, Bagamoyo, and Dar es Salaam. The Girls got to compete in different sports activities, dance, and showcase their different talents.

The forum peaked on the 11th, at a high-level conference officiated by the Speaker of our National Assembly the Hon Dr. Tulia Ackson accompanied by the Minister for Social Development, Gender, Women, and Special Groups, the Hon Dr. Dorothy Gwajima, H.E Ambassador Mary O’ Neill from the Embassy of Ireland, together with esteemed delegates from UN agencies and girl rights stakeholders. The conference aimed to ensure that all the deliberations made by girls in regard to the challenges they face and their suggested solutions are presented to decision-makers for implementation.

Notably, Ms. Elke Wisch UNICEF’s Country Representative spoke on the importance of celebrating girls and their different potentials as well as the need for more investments in promoting girls’ rights. Ms. Annande Nko, a delegate from GLAMI emphasized the responsibility that befalls the government and girl rights stakeholders to ensure that girls remain in school despite the adversities they may face.

Also, Minister Gwajima mentioned that the government does in fact realize the significance of creating safe spaces for girls and encouraged Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to continue to act as bridges between communities and the government.

In the end, girls also got to ask the Hon. Dr. Ackson multiple questions on cross-cutting topics and how her platform could help solve those issues, including the amendment of the Law of Marriage Act 1971.

In Zanzibar

We were fortunate to conduct two events, the first, was a satellite event on the 6th of October, where we reached 48 girls and 12 boys from Fujoni Primary & Secondary School. This event’s goal was to convene with girls and instill in them the importance of their self-image and identity as a radical point for bringing transformative change in their communities and country.

Here, girls were able to voice out their thoughts and offer solutions that could be incorporated into fostering environments in which they can thrive and consequently make the lives of girls in Tanzania Mainland and Zanzibar better. Students from Fujoni Primary School also gave an outstanding performance with their interpretive poetry depicting ‘MUHALI’ as one of the root causes of GBV in their society and how a single voice could be a catalyst to end this practice.

On the 11th, our second event in Zanzibar was conducted in collaboration with the Ministry of Community Development, Gender, Elderly, and Children, distinguished CSOs like Save the Children, Zanzibar Child Rights Forum, and the SOS Children Village. Together, we brought 400 girls from different talent schools to engage in dialogues concerning the investments required in girls’ education for them to become prominent leaders in the future.

The Guest of Honor, Deputy Minister for the Ministry of Community Development, Gender, Elderly, and Children, Hon. Ms. Anna Atanas Paul spoke passionately on how positive parenting, good education, and child protection strategies can bring about transformative change. She encouraged the girls to focus on their education as it is the cornerstone for establishing their dreams and goals.

Photo: Girls getting ready to start the IDG celebrations on 11th October 2023 in Zanzibar

In Morogoro

As part of the consortium implementing the ‘Hapana Marefu Yasiyo na Mwisho’ project, together with fellow consortium members; the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania (ELCT), Amani Girls Home, Felm, Fida, and LWF, we conducted a charity walk with 300 students from 7 schools within the Morogoro Municipal. The walk was followed by panel discussions on the norms and practices that perpetuate Gender-Based Violence (GBV) and the prevalence of Child Marriage in the country.

The panel included representatives from the Police Gender & Children's Desk, the Head of Islamic Studies from Morogoro University, and renowned psychologist Rev. Christine from the Morogoro ELCT Diocese. This expert group dissected existing harmful practices within the country and pledged to use their platforms as law enforcement and religious leaders to discourage said practices and champion the rights, safety, and well-being of girls in their communities.

With that in mind, they encouraged girls and community members to utilize the 116 Child Helpline number and report any form of abuse against children.

Photo: Girls on charity walk demonstrating against early and child marriages on the IDGC 11th October in Morogoro.

The Guest of Honor, Sheikh Twaha Salim, Lead Sheikh for the Morogoro Municipal acknowledged that it was possible for traditions and practices that are harmful to girls to change in accordance with Human Rights. He also pointed out that positive change cannot take place without collective action, and to use commemorative days like these to reaffirm commitments from stakeholders, and community members towards a future that is safe for all girls.

Our events for the International Day of the Girl Child have given us a platform to collaborate with like-minded organisations, engage with the community, raise awareness, and inspire positive change. C-Sema continues its ongoing efforts to empower children, girls, and young women, ensuring that they have the tools and support needed to thrive.

Written by Faith Mkony

C-Sema's Communication & Advocacy Officer.

This article has been produced (in part) with the financial assistance of the European Union. The contents of this text are the sole responsibility of the project partners and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of European Union.



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