More Info about the Situation of Girls in Tanzania Posted November 25, 2013 by Gwyneth Hesser


A wonderful video by Human Rights Watch about child marriage and female genital mutilation in Tanzania:


The Girl Effect’s terrific video that explains the link between girls’ education, child marriage, HIV/AIDS, poverty and development:



Targeted violence against schoolgirls, cultural clashes, cost-prohibitive fees and families giving boys the opportunity when resources are strained are some of the main culprits that keep girls out of the classroom, according to UNICEF. Sometimes the issue is as minute as a girl not having access to sanitary pads. The risk of humiliation in the non-segregated bathrooms is enough to keep her at home.  And it’s not just gaining knowledge that these young people are missing out on. Advocates have long held that education is the No. 1 guarantor of income, wealth, status and security. But for girls, it also comes with the reduced risk of infant mortality, contracting HIV and being forced into child marriage.



Thomson Reuters Foundation:

“Tanzania has a problem with high teenage pregnancy rates. Over 44 percent of Tanzanian girls have given birth or are pregnant by the age of 19. It also has one of the world’s lowest rates of transition – of both girls and boys – from primary to secondary school, at 36 percent…Virtually all of these pregnancies are unwanted…Sexual violence is widespread. A national survey in 2009 found that almost a third of Tanzanian girls who had sex before the age of 18 said that it was against their will. According to the survey, almost 40 percent of the girls who experienced sexual violence said they were attacked either on the way to or from school or while at school. Perpetrators included teachers – who sometimes traded sex for grades – bus conductors and taxi drivers.”



Thomson Reuters Foundation:

“The Tanzania Demographic and Health Survey of 2010 shows that about 10% of women between the ages of 15-49 report their first sexual intercourse was forced and that 48% of married women reported experiencing sexual violence…Gender based violence is a grave reality in the lives of women and girls in Tanzania. Government data shows that such violence is caused by social and economic inequalities that give privilege to men over women.  Although female genital mutilation is illegal, United Nations Population Fund statistics show Tanzania has recorded a rise in FGM prevalence in recent years with the Mara region leading with a prevalence of 39.9%, compared to the national average of  14.6%.”



Thomson Reuters Foundation:

“World Bank data shows that 22.8 percent of girls aged 15 to 19 in Tanzania had children or were pregnant in 2010, while the adolescent fertility rate (the number of births per 1,000 girls aged 15-19) was 129, giving Tanzania the highest adolescent fertility rate in the world – a situation blamed to a large extent on early marriage and a high school dropout rate, the Daily News reported in April. The Tanzania Media Women’s Association (TAMWA), an NGO for women journalists, says there is a strong correlation between child marriage, school dropout rates, early pregnancy and HIV/AIDS and it estimates that between 20 and 40 percent of Tanzanian girls marry before adulthood.”


Daily News:

Describes the problem of early pregnancy in Tanzania and attributes this to child marriage practices and high school drop out rates.



Thomson Reuters Foundation:


  • Between 2011 and 2020, more than 140 million girls will become child brides, according to the United Nations Population Fund. If current levels of child marriages remain unchanged, 14.2 million girls annually or 39,000 daily will marry too young.


  • Poor families in Tanzania force their children into marriage either to settle debts or to make money and escape the cycle of poverty. Child marriage increases poverty and girls who marry young are likely to miss out on education.
  • Girls living in poor families are more likely to marry before the age of 18 than girls in families with a higher income.


  • In most cases, young girls find themselves unable to complete their education due to family pressures to marry, sexual harassment, or an unwanted pregnancy. According to a survey carried out by Tanzania’s Ministry of Education, more than 16,000 girls dropped out of school from 2008 to 2010 due to pregnancy. Parents and families actively discouraged some girls to enroll in secondary school and instructed others to try to fail so they could drop out without arousing suspicion.


  • Medical practitioners and nutritionists have made it clear that a girl aged 14 or 15 is still growing and her body needs more nutritional care to achieve appropriate growth in order to pass from the child to adult stage.
  • Girls younger than 15 are five times more likely to die in childbirth than women in their 20s. Pregnancy is the leading cause of death worldwide for women ages 15 to 19. According to the Tanzania Demographic and Health Survey (2010), a quarter of women aged 15 to 19 are pregnant or have given birth.
  • Young maternal age is associated with prolonged or obstructed labour, which can lead to obstetric fistula – a hole in the birth canal. In Tanzania, there are roughly 2500-3000 new cases of obstetric fistula each year.
  • Pregnancy is the leading cause of girls dropping out of school in Tanzania. In January 2010, a new law was passed that allowed girls to return to school after pregnancy.
  • The Tanzania Demographic and Health Survey (2010) found that about 20 percent of 15 to 19 year old women had given birth to at least one child in Tanzania.
  • Child brides face a higher risk of contracting HIV because they often marry an older man with more sexual experience. Girls ages 15 to 19 are between 2 and 6 times more likely to contract HIV than boys of the same age in sub-Saharan Africa.


  • Child marriage is a product of cultures that devalue women and girls and discriminate against them. “The discrimination often manifests itself in the form of domestic violence, marital rape, and deprivation of food, lack of access to information, education, and healthcare” according to a UNICEF report entitled Child Marriage and the Law.
  • Child brides often show symptoms of sexual abuse and post-traumatic stress such as feelings of hopelessness, helplessness and severe depression.


  • Tanzania has launched an all-encompassing social media campaign aimed at raising awareness about the need to reverse the fate of girls who are often married off at a very young age. Although Tanzania has seen some progress over the last few years, reducing child marriage by as much as 13 percent, today one in six girls aged 15 to 19 years is married.


Children Dignity Forum (CDF) Report on Child Marriage Survey: