What does Malawi’s ban on child marriage mean for Tanzania?
Malawi has made a historic amendment to its constitution to fully outlaw child marriage following more than a year-long campaign led by young people, championed by Plan International UK.
14 February 2017 will always be remembered as a great day for girls in Malawi after Malawian Parliamentarians unanimously agreed to amend the Malawi Constitution. They removed a legal loophole which has allowed children under the age of 18 to marry with parental consent.
While celebrating this massive achievement for gender equality and humanity as a whole, the role of young people should not be underestimated. More than 40,000 people around the world stood in solidarity with young Malawian campaigners who made this historic change possible.
What does Malawi’s decision mean for child brides in Tanzania?
The 1971 Tanzania Law of Marriage Act allows girls from the age of 14 to marry with either their parent’s consent or the court’s order. I call on other governments, especially my home country Tanzania, to remove discriminatory sections in its law and make sure that girls are well protected. It’s time for Tanzania to follow in the good steps of Malawi and protect girls from child marriage!
The success of young campaigners in Malawi showed how young people can be the drivers of positive change. I am a member of Youth For Change Tanzania, part of the global Youth For Change network. With the support of Plan International Tanzania, our team is focused on tackling violence against girls, specifically ending child marriage and female genital mutilation.
Our campaigning and advocacy work starts at the grassroots level – raising awareness and mobilising communities – but goes onto influence key decision-makers and has an impact and make change on a national and even global level. Our key focus is engaging our peers – because we believe that young people are the key actors and drivers of change.
In December 2015, we launched a campaign to amend the Law of Marriage Act to set the minimum age of marriage to 18. Global Citizen have offered tremendous support, by urging Global Citizens across the continents to stand with Tanzanian youths and holding leaders accountable to government’s commitments to end child marriage.
Like in Malawi, it’s critical that everyone, from domestic and international organisations, to development partners and intergovernmental institutions, join our solidarity movement to end child marriage in Tanzania. We’ve joined forces with the Tanzania Ending Child Marriage Network, a partnership of 35 organisations united to end child marriage. This network is a great step forward, and reminds us that we will be stronger when we are united towards a common goal.
Malawi’s decision to raise the age of marriage must be a loud alarm to Tanzanian lawmakers to quickly amend the 1971 Law of Marriage Act and to end child marriage once and for all. It’s high time for young people in Tanzanian to stand up and be counted. I am sure that this moment in time, more than ever in history, our voices are louder and we must be heard, so let’s not waste this opportunity!
Stand with young campaigners from Youth For Change Tanzania by taking an important step to eradicating child marriage!