It was 3 pm on Friday afternoon when Grace *, a counselor with the National Child Aid Line in Tanzania, received a call from a concerned teacher in Masalala, a small town in the remote Shenyanga district in the northwest to the east. African country.
One of her brightest students, 13-year-old Eliza *, did not go to school that day after disturbing rumors that her parents were planning to marry her off. It is learned that they have accepted payment in the form of a bride’s dowry from the intended groom’s family. The man chosen for Eliza was 35 years old, 22 years older.
On a final two-day visit to Tanzania, United Nations Population FundDr. Natalia Kanem, Executive Director of Advisors In the National Child HelplineIn the commercial capital of Dar es Salaam. The helpline is operated by C-Sema, a national NGO, in cooperation with the government.
Free Service 116, available across all mobile phone networks in mainland Tanzania and Zanzibar, responds to approximately 3,500 calls per day from women and children at risk of violence, and from family and community members who report abuse.
The helpline reported an increase in calls during the COVID pandemic as school closures left children more vulnerable to abuse and exploitation.
Trained volunteer counselors like Grace provide support to women and youth 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Consultants are also reaching out to support networks and protection systems in the caller area to provide further assistance.
Eliza’s story has a happy ending. As a result of Grace’s coordination with local government authorities and district welfare officials in Masalala, officers from the Police Gender and Children Bureau visited Elisa’s parents and the marriage did not take place.
The effort of the entire community
Dr. Kanem expressed his gratitude to C-Sema and the advisors for their dedication to advancing gender equality and the health, rights and well-being of women and youth, including through the use of digital platforms and new technologies.
Despite progress and commitment by the government to address gender inequality and discrimination, as outlined in the Five-Year National Action Plans to End Violence against Women and Children, violence remains a daily reality for many women and adolescents.
The United Nations Population Fund in Tanzania supports efforts to eliminate gender-based violence and to strengthen protection systems across the country in addition to supporting the National Child Helpline, and it also works with police officers who work in specialized gender and child investigation units that meet the needs of Women and children. Girls and other comprehensive support services that provide comprehensive care in one location to ensure that victims of abuse do not have to move from place to place to seek medical care, psychological support, or legal aid.
Community centers have also been established, where women support each other and take the lead in ending violence in their communities.
Empowering men and boys as agents of change
Efforts to end violence do not just focus on empowering women and girls. Men and boys, traditional and community leaders, are also included in the talks in recognition of their role and contribution to gender equality. Through broad community outreach, UNFPA partners encourage discussions about harmful stereotypes of masculinity and positive ways to uphold the rights of women and girls.
Dr. Kanem stressed that involving men in holding other men accountable is critical to creating a basis for greater equality and they should not be neglected or neglected. “Every girl and boy should be valued and taught that expressing and empowering them should not focus on defeating others.”
Support government-led efforts
During her visit to Tanzania, Dr. Kanem met the country’s first female president, Samia Solo Hassan, who expressed Tanzania’s commitment to eliminating preventable maternal and child deaths, gender-based violence and harmful practices, including female genital mutilation.
Dr. Kanem praised the leadership of the government and confirmed the support of the United Nations Population Fund for Tanzania to achieve the goals of development and stronger and more inclusive social and economic growth with the aim of leaving no one behind.
* Name has been changed to protect identity.