Binti is changing the fight against child marriage in Tanzania
“Hi, my name is Binti. I am 14 years old, and live in Tanzania, I go to school and I want to go to university one day. My dream is to be an Engineer and build roads and bridges across my beautiful country and beyond, across Africa.
My dream will only come true if my parents let me finish school and help me grow and be everything I am meant to be.
Child marriage is still too common in Tanzania and it destroys the dreams of so many Binti’s. Join me to raise awareness to help the laws in our land change for better. For every girl like me.”
This is Binti. The lead character and name of a non-branded campaign to end child marriage in Tanzania. Binti, which means daughter in Kiswahili, is aggregating voices of young people and influential leaders, triggering conversations across society in Tanzania. With the key action of the campaign asking people to take a pledge – a pledge to not participate in the marriage of a child under the age of 18.
"The time is now to address the social norms that hinder us from fulfilling our life dreams," said Nancy Kasembo, a young person from Shinyaga and Chair of the Junior Council of the United Republic of Tanzania. "As young people, we have a chance to make Tanzania a place where every child is loved, protected, and given their rights to blossom."
Unfortunately, 3 in 10 women in Tanzania got married as children, making it home to the 11th largest number of child brides worldwide. Meaning millions of girls didn’t get the chance to finish school, faced teenage pregnancy, and have been trapped in poverty and without options for their future ever since. In Shinyaga, Mara, and Lindi regions of Tanzania the prevalence of child marriage is 59%, 55% and 48% respectively.
“If I was married off when I was still a child, there is no way I would’ve had the opportunities I’ve had so far. As a young Tanzanian, who is fortunate enough to be able to do what I do, I cannot imagine the heartache and sadness that so many young girls must be feeling right now, stuck in a marriage as a child. It’s not right. Girls should be playing with their friends, finishing school, and making a name for themselves in this great nation of ours”, said Meena Ally, radio presenter and media personality.
In Tanzania, the 1971 Law of Marriage Act allows girls to marry at 14 with court consent and 15 with parental consent. The same law allows boys to marry at 18. In 2016 the High Court made a landmark decision, declaring those sections of the Law unconstitutional, and in 2019, the decision was confirmed by the Court of Appeal which ordered the Government to make amendments to the law, setting minimum age of 18 for both girls and boys.
These amendments are yet to be made.
“The issue of child marriage in Tanzania is overdue for change. And there are two aspects, the Law of Marriage Act which needs to be amended, and the practice itself. It’s not a simple issue, because there are many drivers that push families into child marriage, such as poverty. But we can’t stop. We need to keep going until the law is amended and until practices and drivers change.”
Enter Binti in 2022! Binti is a platform and a campaign for all organizations and voices in Tanzania who are keeping up the fight to end child marriage and ensure the law gets amended. The campaign, which has its own website www.binti.tz also has an innovative way of enabling pledges. Not only can people pledge online via the website, but also via WhatsApp and offline by SMS. Making it easy for anyone anywhere in Tanzania to pledge.
Pledges, which can be taken individually or by groups, are counted and tracked live on the website and will be presented to decision-makers in an effort to drive demand for the law to be amended.
"We owe every Tanzanian child, irrespective of gender, the right to education, health, and protection”, says Sophia Byanaku, a doctor, business-person and influential leader for girls’ health, “and this campaign which intends to mobilize action to end child marriage in our country is truly welcome and very timely".
Doris Mollel, founder of the Dorris Mollel Foundation and a passionate advocate to end child marriage said “it's important that we take a stand now for every young girl in Tanzania. Everyone has something to offer in this fight: the government, civil society, religious leaders, families, and communities. It can't be an independent girl and woman's fight alone. It must be a unanimous fight by all, especially men—our fathers, brothers, and sons to push against these trends and stale narratives”.
Sign the PLEDGE at www.binti.tz