CHILD BRIDES & THE PROMISE OF CHANGE IN TANZANIA [ARCHIVE]

  • Blog
  • 2 Feb 2017

Each year Well Told Story commissions the #Shujaaz360 – definitive nationally representative surveys of over 2,000 young people each in Kenya and Tanzania (read last year’s reports here Kenya and Tanzania). #Shujaaz360 is partly an annual health check on East African youth, emerging trends and issues, and it’s partly a progress report confirming how and who Shujaaz is reaching, and with what effects. It’s key to achieving our mission, to create social and economic value for young people in Africa.

Today we received the new 2017 #Shujaaz360 Tanzania top-line findings. This is always an exciting moment – how are we doing? are we reaching the right people? are our systems working?

The initial findings are great – things are growing even faster than we hoped. A year ago, eight months after we launched, 9% of all Tanzania’s youth knew Shujaaz – today that number has grown to 23%.

After less than 24 months of operations, 18% of all Tanzanian youth have “used” one of the Shujaaz platforms – the monthly comic books, the syndicated FM radio shows, the social media channels – that’s 1.7 million young people and a huge step up from 7% last year.

It’s very encouraging to see these initial numbers and there are many more to come as we dive into the 2 million data points from the 2017 survey (subscribe to the Well Told Story blog, below, and you’ll get them). It means we’re on target to be Tanzania’s biggest local youth brand with the power to change young people’s lives for the better.

But recently also came another piece of data that triangulates the survey in the most powerful way possible. A Shujaaz fan in Tanzania sent us a YouTube link to a documentary about girls being exchanged for cows in deep rural Shinyanga province. The video opens with old men haggling over the number of cattle to swap for a 13-year-old child bride. The camera cuts to the girl herself, alone in her family’s simple home, powerless as her fate is decided, but while she waits she’s seeking solace in a well-read copy of Shujaaz, perhaps her only connection to the outside world.

We are pleased of our new numbers – to achieve 23% national reach in Tanzania after just a few months of full operations is fantastic. But the human story from Shinyanga touched us much more. Somehow Shujaaz has found its way to that young girl and brought to her a view of the world filled with new ideas and possibilities and progress. The girl in the video goes on to be rescued by local officials who charge the parents and the would-be purchasers. We pray that the world she’s seen in Shujaaz is helping her now, as we know it has helped and inspired millions of others. And we are reminded why we are investing in young people and their future.