Tanzania is a country in East Africa with a coastline on the Indian Ocean. It is bordered by Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique. Its name derives from the name of the two states: Tanganyika and Zanzibar, which united in 1964 to form one country. The major economic, political and commercial city of Tanzania is the coastal city of Dar es Salaam, although the official capital is Dodoma. Tanzania has an estimated population of 45 million.
In Tanzania, there is increasing recognition of the potential role that men play as supporters and partners in women’s health-seeking, such as the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT) services, voluntary counseling and testing (VCT), home-based care (HBC), antenatal care (ANC) visits and family planning (FP). Experiences in the community and with health workers have found that health providers are not equipped with the skills to counsel both men and women together in the context of HIV counseling and testing. Although policies and guidelines now exist that encourage couple counseling, capacity of providers and the quality of the services in this respect is still low. Standard operating procedures, job aids and training materials are a few resources that would better operationalize the inclusion of men in health services.
Given the opportunities that exist, MenEngage Tanzania aims to strengthen the accessibility of health services to promote men as partners in gender equity, HIV prevention and improved reproductive health outcomes, through the promotion of policies and actions that engage men. Formed in 2008, the network was later re-launched in 2011 by the Secretariat (CHAMPION Project – EngenderHealth) to create a network built around common advocacy priorities with a clear agenda, purpose and identity.
Purpose of the activities at country level
- To engage in national-level awareness-raising activities that highlight the importance of male involvement in HIV and AIDS and sexual and reproductive health (SRH).
- To promote national policies and strategies that support men’s roles as facilitators of family health (i.e. men, women and children).
- To promote organizational (e.g. health facilities and workplaces) policies that support men’s roles as facilitators of family health.
MenEngage Tanzania has a dedicated team of 22 member organizations, representing Government of Tanzania departments and local and international organizations. As Secretariat, CHAMPION successfully coordinates quarterly general meetings, monthly steering committee meetings and all other network activities within Tanzania. A formal terms of reference outlines the roles and responsibilities of network members, with an annually rotating steering committee.
MenEngage Tanzania Members
- TACAIDS (Tanzania Commission for AIDS) *
- NACP (National AIDS Control Program) *
- RCHS (Reproductive and Child Health Services) *
- HDT (Human Development Trust) *
- MEWATA (Medical Women’s Association of Tanzania) *
- Tanzania Interfaith Partnership *
- NACOPHA (National Council for People Living with HIV and AIDS)
- WISE (Women in Social Entrepreneurship)
- UMATI (Tanzania Family Planning Association)
- Jhpiego *
- UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund) *
- RFSU (Swedish Organization for Sexual Enlightenment) *
- CARE International *
- Pathfinder International *
- Plan International
- EngenderHealth (CHAMPION and ATP Projects) *
- AMREF (African Medical and Research Foundation)
- The Balm in Gilead (Tanzania)
- Marie Stopes *
- IntraHealth International
- FHI (Family Health International)
* Steering Committee Members
MenEngage Tanzania is a strong, diverse network with shared goals and policy priorities, a facilitator of learning and skills-building for engaging men in health services and advocacy, and an active public advocate for engaging men in the health of Tanzanians.
- MenEngage Tanzania is a strong, diverse network, successfully established thanks to CHAMPION’s extensive mapping and assessment of potential partners. Clear roles and responsibilities have been jointly defined for all members, as well as detailed annual action plans that guide the network’s activities. The annually rotating steering committee provides each member organization with a sense of ownership and subsequently enhancing their skills and leadership in network coordination.
- MenEngage Tanzania is a facilitator of learning, continuously developing a community of practice on engaging men in health care. This is achieved through the facilitation of a variety of learning sessions on working with men, analyzing policies and programs through a gendered lens, and implementing advocacy plans.
- MenEngage is an active public advocate, recently establishing a subcommittee to work the media around male engagement in PMTCT as part of the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare’s five year national plan. MenEngage Tanzania conducts interviews on television and radio, submits newspaper articles and letters to the editor for publication, and works with high profile figures to publically discuss engaging men in PMTCT.
In the passing on of Sabas Masawe in the early hours of 26th September 2019, Tanzania has lost a champion in the struggle for women’s and children’s rights, gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls. Read more here.
NGOs advance girls’ access to sexual & reproductive health rights and services – through engaging boys and men
HEAL (Health | Empowerment | Aid | Light) International, a member of MenEngage Tanzania (MET) network based in Arusha, north-eastern Tanzania, has been working with young men to create awareness around STIs. Read more here.
MenEngage Tanzania featured on AfricaGender Indaba Radio
Men and Boys Must Take Action to End Gender-Based Violence
Children’s Dignity Forum (CDF) is putting engagement of men and boys at the core of its interventions to promote gender equality, child protection and girls’ empowerment within societies.
20 September 2018
Gender-based violence (GBV) is a widely known problem that is mainly perpetrated by men, and community members and individuals who tolerate negative masculine practices widely in Tanzania. Ending violence in our communities is a responsibility of the whole community and it is significant that men and boys are active participants and promoters of change to get rid of the current status quo. On the same scale, it is also critical to combat not only the individual instances of violence, but also the systemic forms of violence, as violence does not occur in a vacuum but rather in a society that condones and encourages it.
GBV that is directed at women and girls by men, results in large part from women’s subordinate status in the society due to traditional and cultural norms (patriarchal societies), as well as their low economic status (poverty), and serves – by intention or effect – to perpetuate male power and control over women. There is also ample evidence that gender inequality and the resulting economic deprivation and dependency are fuelling GBV and abuse in Tanzania.
Breaking with tradition
28 August 2018
In Tanzania, newly cut, pubescent girls are paraded through villages, propelled by sounds of praise and celebratory exultations. They are discouraged from crying during what is believed to be an important rite of female passage. Getting communities to abandon this practice is naturally no easy feat. For this reason, in 2016, MenEngage Tanzania (MET) decided to focus strategically on eradicating the practice and work with a group that largely viewed as being difficult to penetrate and resistant to change – traditional leaders.
“It took us a long time to convince the traditional leaders and communities to even sit and listen to us. They were very resistant,” said Dorothy Ernest, monitoring, evaluation and learning officer at the Children’s Dignity Forum (CDF), the Secretariat for MET. “In the beginning, the well-organised clans would send community members posing as traditional leaders. We only became aware later on that the people we were speaking to, weren’t actually traditional leaders.” Other ways in which community sought to circumvent efforts to change their customs included performing FGM at night and/or in secret, as opposed to the public event that usually followed the practice. In addition, there were cases where girls were being cut at the same ceremony in which boys were being circumcised; again, an attempt to hide the practice.
In the Mara region, where CDF is implementing its FGM programme, there is a 32% prevalence rate among women aged 15-49. The latest Tanzania Demographic and Health Survey indicate a low prevalence for girls 0-14 years, suggesting that girls are either being cut at a later age, or communities are resistant to admit to continuing the practice as they are aware it has been outlawed.
In the nine years that CDF has been working in the town of Tarime in the Mara region, offering training to traditional leaders and creating awareness about the effects of FGM, efforts are finally bearing fruit. “FGM is a practice we grew up with,” said Traditional Leader, Elias Maganya Magori. “We believed if you were circumcised, it would bring wealth to the home. But after trainings with CDF, this has all changed. In my clan, the Bukonye, we have stopped the practice completely. CDF challenged us to go and change the attitudes in our communities. It was not so difficult as we’ve seen the effects of FGM – girls have difficulties in giving birth; there is a lot of blood. Some end up dying; some are affected psychologically.”
Recognising that FGM has financial benefits to the ngaribas (women who are paid to perform the actual cutting) and therefore presents an obstacle to abandoning the practice, alternative to replace the practice required creative thinking. CDF began offering pottery training and sewing workshops to ngaribas in order to increase their capacity to secure income in other ways. In addition, CDF is working with the police to enforce the legislation around FGM and ensure communities are aware of the maximum prison sentence of thirty years for anyone carrying out the practice. In addition, efforts are fuelled by a partnership with the Network Against Female Genital Mutilation (NAFGM).
There are still several ethnic groups carrying out the practices and CDF’s work is by no means over. In addition, efforts are hampered by groups crossing borders in Kenya and performing FGM there.
FGM’s relationship with child marriage
FGM, child marriage, and teenage pregnancy are inextricably linked. Once a girl has been cut, she is viewed as being ready for marriage. In this way, the issue of teenage pregnancy closely follows the dual challenge of FGM and child marriage. In Tanzania, current legislation does not permit teenage mothers to return to school. In this way girls who have been cut, become wives and mothers at a young age, are prevented from reaching their full academic potential. This sets off or continues a cycle of poverty.
Child marriage has, in the past few years, gained global and continental momentum with the Girls Not Bridescampaign and the African Union’s End Child Marriage Campaign respectively. The country has one of the highest child marriage rates in the world, with, according to UNICEF, 7% of girls being married before the age 15. Together with the Tanzanian Ending Child Marriage Network (TECMN), MET has been advocating for amendments to the Law of Marriage Act, which permits girls to marry at the age of 15, and at the age of 14, with the consent of their parents. Both networks developed a single strategy to work through parliamentarians and identified champions that would drive the agenda forward and influence their peers.
In February 2017, both networks convened a meeting where they were able to address forty MPs (from both the ruling party and the Opposition) on the importance of changing the legislation to reflect the rights of girls. “I urge all of us MPs and civil society organisations to come together to initiate a campaign that will rid our country of the scourge of child marriage from down at the grassroots level,” said Hon. Mary Mwanjelwa Mwanjelwa, a member of the Parliamentarians for Global Action advocating against child marriage. “We need to enhance efforts to end child marriage in Tanzania.” The Hon. Fatma Toufik was equally vocal. “MPs should speed up the process to change the Marriage Act of 1971 by working with civil society organizations to push for change,” she said. “There should be co-ordination with the Ministry of Education to include the issue of child marriage in the school curricula as well as engagement of men and boys in the campaign to end it.”
MET will maintain its advocacy efforts with the Ministry of Health, Gender and Community Development, the Attorney General and the Speaker of Parliament to lobby for access to the parliamentary sessions.
Tackling the issue of child marriage at a policy level and working with men at the community level to stop the practice of FGM, means MET and CDF are working tirelessly to ensure the rights of young girls are not violated and that they are able to thrive physically, psychologically and academically.
MET has had the benefit of engaging with collaborations and other networks in the fight against FGM and child marriage. Organisations hoping to duplicate these efforts will have to ensure there is similar momentum at national level. It is worth remembering that changes to behaviours and attitudes relating to FGM and child marriage are evident only after a long time and sustained input.
HAKI YA BINTI – project mobilising action to safeguard rights of girls in Tanzania
This documentary showcases “Haki Ya Binti”, a project to mobilise action to safeguard the rights of girls and young mothers in Tanzania. The objective of the project is to combat all forms of gender-based violence (GBV), including female genital mutilation (FGM), child marriage and teen pregnancies, perpetrated against girls, especially those living in rural areas.
Haki Ya Binti is a project run by our partners in Tanzania, Children’s Dignity Forum (CDF), the Secretariat for MenEngage Tanzania. The documentary showcases the work of the project over a two-year period – 2016 to 2018 – in the five wards of Manga, Susuni, Matongo, Mwema and Nkenda in Tarime District.
To watch the video, click here.
Child marriage in Tanzania – Youth-friendly version
Despite national and international legislation prohibiting it, child marriage has proved an intractable problem across many countries and cultures. Poverty and discrimination continue to drive the practice which blights the lives of so many young girls and inhibits the prosperity of their wider community and country. This is the youth-friendly version of the largest study of child marriage – its prevalence, drivers and impact – to be conducted in Tanzania.
Download pdf here
Child marriage in Tanzania at a glance
Despite national and international legislation prohibiting it, child marriage has proved an intractable problem across many countries and cultures. Poverty and discrimination continue to drive the practice which blights the lives of so many young girls and inhibits the prosperity of their wider community and country. This is the largest study of child marriage – its prevalence, drivers and impact – to be conducted in Tanzania.
Dowload pdf here
A warm welcome to MenEngage Tanzania’s new co-coordinator!
We are very excited to extend a warm welcome to Michael Jackson into our fold! Jackson holds a Bachelors Degree in Sociology and Philosophy from the University of Dar es Salaam, and he has now joined the Secretariat of MenEngage Tanzania, Children’s Dignity Forum (CDF), as the Communications, Partnerships and Advocacy Officer – a role in which he will also be responsible for co-ordinating the activities of MenEngage Tanzania.
He brings with him four years of experience working with community development and human rights organisations, including Art in Tanzania, Save the Children and Children’s Agenda Coalition.His areas of interest and expertise include children’s rights, sexual and reproductive health, gender equality, youth empowerment, research, policy advocacy, training, communication and partnership. His work has seen him develop several strategies focusing on communications and advocacy as well as media plans.
Michael Jackson, we welcome and wish you well in your new role as the coordinator of MenEngage Tanzania.
To read the full story, click here
Women, girls assured of safety in new project
For young girls and even women living in three wards of Tarime District, Mara Region the news about a project seeking to protect them from Female Genital Mutilation ( FGM) and child marriage, is both a relief and consolation.
The young women will now benefit from the threeyear ambitious project, aimed at protecting their rights and rooting out the archaic cultural practices. More than 2,600 girls and young women stand to benefit from the project, thanks to the Foundation for Civil Society (FCS) for supporting the initiative through the Children’s Dignity Forum (CDF). CDF is a local nongovernmental organisation (NGO) leading campaigns aimed at ending FGM and child marriage in the country.
Click here for the complete story.
FGM in Tarime
Female genital mutilation (FGM) affects 15% of women in Tanzania. In the district of Tarime more than 50% of women are victims of this inhumane brutality – that is about 5 in 10 women. This documentary by our partners, Children’s Dignity Forum (CDF), a non-governmental, non-partisan and non-profit-making children’s rights organisation that acts as the Secretariat of MenEngage Tanzania, shows the courageous women and men standing up and fighting against FGM in the east African country.
The True Story of Ghati and Rhobi
“The True Story of Ghati and Rhobi” is a short animated film aimed at raising awareness of female genital mutilation (FGM). It tells the inspirational story of two girls, Ghati and Rhobi, resisting their community’s practice of FGM. They show courage by saying no to a practice that they heard would be painful and that some girls die from. With the help of community elders, they change the way their community treats a girl’s transition into womanhood by ending the practice. The video was developed by FORWARD and Animage Films, in partnership with Children’s Dignity Forum (CDF), the Secretariat for the MenEngage Africa network in Tanzania.
Building on Solid Foundations
Case studies to strengthen and deepen the impact of work with men and boys for gender equality in Africa through the MenEngage Network
In October 2017 Sonke Gender Justice and Men Engage Africa hosted the Five Days of Gender Based Violence Prevention Meeting in South Africa. The purpose of the meeting was to share ideas, exchange promising practices, collect evidence that can strengthen collective advocacy and develop innovative ideas on “mainstreaming” violence prevention.
In preparation for the meeting, Sonke commissioned the identification and documentation of innovative practices on GBV prevention by MenEngage Africa (MEA) partners using the case study methodology. It was agreed the documentation would clearly describe and document the innovative practice, clearly demonstrate why the practices are innovative and make recommendations about how to strengthen the practice.