Teenage pregnancies, child early and forced marriages have multiple contributing factors, likewise the solution to the problem, calls for multi-sectoral collaboration, short of that, this is going to be a pipe dream.
Mkirikiti threw the challenge over the weekend, to partners collaborating with Rukwa- regional government to end teenage pregnancies, child early and forced marriages.
“I urge you to work together, addressing teenage pregnancies is a big issues,” Mkirikiti said adding that the task requires innovation as well as putting adolescents and youth at the center as we design interventions to address the challenge.
Mkirikiti hailed partners, Plan International Tanzania, Youth Education Through Sports Tanzania (YES TZ), Rukwa Sustainable Development Organization (RUSUDEO), People’s Development Forum (PDF), Rafiki SDO, and Chala FDC working in the region to end teenage pregnancies, early and forced marriages.
He said partners collaboration has started bearing fruits, but still there is huge work to be done of which if collaboration is going to be strengthened the task ahead will be surmounted easily and hence emancipating girls.
Speaking after the RC, Plan International Programs Director, Peter Mwakabwale, underscored on the need to invest in a girl child. Mwakabwale said that Plan International is collaborating with other partners including UN agencies, some ministries and CSOs as part of preparing girls to take up leadership positions as well as grooming girls to take up power, they have placed about 72 girls in various institutions mentioned above where by the girls are assuming executive and managerial position as part of marking girls takeover week. (#GirlsTakeOver).
Presenting the success that has been recorded since inception of Girls Get Equal Integrated Project to End Child Early and Forced Marriages in Rukwa region Project, Kisasu Sikalwanda who is the project manager (PM), told attendees that of the 5 outcomes of the project (Keeping Girls in School, Increased Sexual Reproductive Health (SRH) Knowledge among adolescents and youth, Reduce poverty of young girls and their families, Changing norms and inequalities that lead to child marriage and Advocate for policies against child marriage and support community based child protection) there has been notable success.
“Among many successes in outcome one the project has managed to strengthen 15 established IPOSA (Integrated Program for Out of School Adolescents) by providing them with teaching and learning materials—flip charts, numbering, maps, maker pen, masking tapes, pen, exercise books, rulers as well as purchase of IPOSA modules .Through this centres a total of 291 youth joined (117males, 174 females) including with Children with Disabilities,” Kisasu said.
Project has managed to Mobilize 86 (56girls, 30boys) dropout students to enroll in open schools for qualifying tests next year, according to the PM.
In outcome two according to Kisasu, the project has been able to print and disseminate Adolescent Sexual Reproductive Health manual and data collection tools which will support teachers during trainings to adolescent in all 152 project schools, the project has been able to reach a total 929 beneficiaries (436 female and 493 male) out of the targeted 1,819, with SRHR awareness sessions specifically on communication skills, youth friendly services and male involvement in SRHR and ending child marriages related issues.
“Among of them, 821 were parents, 47 Local government leaders, 18 traditional leaders, 24 religious leaders and 19 influential people,” Kisasu said adding that the project has also conducted community talks done in 17 wards out of the 36 project wards, whereby 359 (185 female, 174 male) community members have been reached.
In outcome three the project has been able to train 388 youth out of 900 targeted in 2021 on vocational and entrepreneurship skills courses on domestic electrical installation, tailoring, carpentry and joinery, masonry and brick lying and motor vehicle mechanics, this includes 291 girls and 97 boys, according to Kisasu.
“The project has managed to mobilize 459 families with children below 18 to join into Village Saving and Lending Association (VSLA) groups and up to September a total of TZS Million 58,434,600 were issues as loans to those families,” said Kisasu.
According to Kisasu the project under outcome five has managed to build the capacity of 384 peer educators in 48 (32Ps & 18 Ss) peer educators on area of GBV identification and reporting including understanding GBV/VAC, reporting pathways, how they can protect themselves from violence through various life skill and other violence related to VAC including teenage pregnancy, early marriages, and other related cases.
Kisasu told the participants that, the project managed to sensitize 77 district interfaith members (56 males, 21 females). For two days on addressing key challenges related to Child Early and Forced Marriage Engage inter religious Council for peace committees on preventing child marriage and VAC.