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Adolescent Girls and Young Women Champions Take the Lead in Ending Child Marriage
In the Shinyanga and Mara Regions of Tanzania, 105 adolescent girls and young women have been trained as “Champions” to forward women and girls’ rights and help protect girls from child marriage and other harmful practices.
“Seeing and experiencing violence throughout my life influenced me to join the movement as a Champion to end GBV and child marriage,” said Devota Rashid, 23 years old, from Shinyanga region. “The training equipped me and my fellow Champions with knowledge and skills to facilitate community dialogues on ending GBV and advocating for girls’ and women’s rights.”
The training has equipped the Champions with skills to identify and report cases of GBV and child marriage for prevention and response measures. Following the training, the Champions created action plans that reflect their commitment to disseminate knowledge on the rights and choices of women and girls, including those with disabilities, to live free from GBV and child marriage and elimination of stigma and discrimination.
The Champions have already put their knowledge into action; during the course of the awareness raising sessions, they were able to save a 12-year-old girl from child marriage who had just graduated from standard seven. While waiting for her exam results, she was married with the oversight of her elder sister, who received a bride price of seven goats from the man.
As the community gained a better understanding of GBV and child marriage as a result of the Champions’ awareness raising sessions, a young woman reported the case to the Champions who reported it to the district Social Welfare Officer, who then reported it to the Police Gender Desk Officer. The male suspect was quickly apprehended, and the survivor is being cared for in a safe house.
Modesta Degratius, 23 years old, a trained Champion said, “I wish this project had come earlier, because I could have saved my 14-year-old friend who was married. I was unaware of girls’ rights at the time, and didn’t know where or how to report, and lacked the confidence to do so. Since our training we have started to educate young girls groups, and in providing that education we have been able to raise various gender-based violence cases that are happening in the community.”
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