The Tanzania Gender in Education Initiative (TGEI) has said the new constitution should protect girls and women from outdated, exploitative and harmful traditions.
Among the harmful traditions identified are Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), early marriages and denial to own property, especially land left by immediate family members.
The call was made in Morogoro over the weekend at the end of a two-day workshop organised to share experience, challenges and achievements on girls’ education.
Presenting a paper on girls’ right to education and their contribution to the ongoing constitutional reforms, a legal officer with the Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC) Laetitia Petro said the current constitution identified an adult as a person of 18 years of age and grants him or her the right to vote.
However, another law, the Marriage Act, allows marriages of girls below that age. “The constitution is the mother law whereby each law of the country must go concurrent with it. However, currently there are some laws like the Marriage Act which are contradicting the Constitution. Another law contradicting the mother law is the Child Act,” she said.
“We need a new constitution that will protect girls and women through a clear mechanism that will scrap all the bad legislations from the country’s law books,” stressed Petro.
Contributing to the discussion, a participant identified as Laurent Sabuni underlined a need for gender activists to ensure they fight for the girls’ rights to be incorporated in the new constitution due to the group being vulnerable.
Catherine Sekwao from an NGO known, as Fudea claimed bride price was an outdated tradition, saying it was an attributing factor to early marriages, as more often greedy parents married off their daughters for dowry.
“Why should one pay for the girl while the bride doesn’t earn anything. This is one of the outdated traditions that ought to go,” suggested Sekwao.
TGEI wants the new constitution to incorporate the right to work for girls and women, equal opportunity to economic and social rights as well as incorporation of the right to health for a girl child on the bill of rights.
The NGO also recommends that the new constitution should specify the age when a girl can get married and wants authorities to incorporate the right to own property, especially land for girls and women.
TGEI is a partnership of 56 organisations in the country committed towards narrowing the gender gap in primary and secondary education by 2015, while at the same time making sure that all girls and boys have equal access to free education.
The network is coordinated by FAWETZ, an organisation striving to ensure equal access to education by both, girls and boys.