Child marriage in Tanzania

Three women share their stories

Tanzania has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world. On average, one in three girls are married before they turn 18. In some areas, girls are married as young as 11.

As part of Plan International UK’s campaign to say NO to child marriage, three women, Joyce, Mbusiro and Nyamburi, shared their stories.

Joyce

“If my daughters don’t go to secondary school, I’d like to find them activities to do instead of getting married. I want my children to have a good life.”

“I got married when I was 15 to a man who was double my age. I didn’t know him before he proposed.

“I gave birth to my first child when I was 16, but the baby died. My body wasn’t ready for the delivery. After I lost the first baby I had another child, a boy, when I was 18. Now I also have two daughters.

“I didn’t get a chance to go to secondary school. I regret that I didn’t go back. I would have liked to have been a nurse or a teacher.

“If my daughters don’t go to secondary school, I’d like to find them activities to do instead of getting married. I want my children to have a good life.”

Left: Joyce with her son, seven, and her two daughters. Right: Joyce prepares a fire at home in Tanzania.

Mbusiro

“I didn’t want to get married, my parents decided. I’m trying to send my girls to school so they don’t get married young.”

“I was married when I was 14. My husband was a neighbour. He was nearly 40.

“I didn’t want to get married, my parents decided. I wanted to go to school and be a teacher.

“I had my first child at 15. Now I have three daughters and I’m nine months pregnant. I’m trying to send my girls to school so they don’t get married young.”

Nyamburi

“I won’t marry again until I’m ready and I’ve accomplished things in my life. I’m busy and I’m saving now. I want to be a business woman.”

“My parents told me I had to get married. A couple of men came to our house to express their interest in marrying me.

“All along I was saying “no, no, no,” but eventually they told me I couldn’t keep saying no. I had to get married. I didn’t love my husband, but I didn’t have any choice. He was the man I was going to live with.

“Before I got married I didn’t have any major expectations. I thought married life would be ok. But it was completely different from what I expected.

“It was just a few months before my husband started abusing me. He wouldn’t give me money for food. He beat me. Finally I couldn’t take it anymore. I went home, and my parents told me not to go back.

“I wanted to study to become a teacher. But none of that happened because I got married. It killed my dreams.”

Standing with young people in Tanzania

“You are going to help a lot of girls. The government and the communities will see early marriage is not a good thing for girls.” — Joyce

In Tanzania, we’re working with youth advocates like Upendo, left, to empower girls and women and raise awareness of the dangers of child marriage.
Joyce, Mbusiro and Nyamburi are joining youth advocates in the campaign to make child marriage illegal in Tanzania. All photos Plan International UK/Rob Beechey

Thanks to the support of players of the People’s Postcode Lottery, we’re building a brighter, safer future for thousands of girls facing early child marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM) in Tanzania.

We’re also working with our partners on the ground, including the Children’s Dignity Forum (CDF), who help Plan International run the programme Joyce, Mbusiro and Nyamburi have all taken part in.

A key part of the programme is to provide vocational skills training to girls and young women. By strengthening their economic independence, they can go on to access decent work and an income, giving them greater decision-making power over their lives.

And by empowering girls and women in this way — and encouraging entire communities to respond to harmful traditional practices — instances of FGM and child marriage can be reduced.

Read more about our work to end child marriage on the Plan International UK website >

Plan International UK

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Plan International UK works with children in 50 of the world’s poorest countries so they can move themselves from a life of poverty to a future with opportunity

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