Advancements in health have caused infant mortality in Tanzania to plummet more than 50% in the past 25 years, creating a historic opportunity for greater prosperity, with more than half Tanzania’s population younger than 20 and poised to enter the workforce over the next 10 years.
Marie Stopes Tanzania’s Country Director Ulla Muller said: “Tanzania is on the cusp of major change. Until now adults have, in effect, had to work extra hard to meet the needs of more dependent children. But greater access to family planning and education would allow our extra-large youth population to become an extra-productive population of young adults.”
Delaying childbearing offers profound health benefits and enables young people to set themselves up for the future by completing their education. This is especially true for young women, who face expulsion from school if they fall pregnant.
“Family planning is so important for young women” said Narietha Boniface, Marie Stopes Tanzania’s Youth Ambassador, medical student and top fashion model. “We have more to offer Tanzania than just babies. Every time a girl leaves school because she is pregnant, Tanzania loses an opportunity to reduce poverty.”
Determined to address these issues, Marie Stopes Tanzania has convened a high level meeting in Dar es Salaam entitled: ‘Tanzania’s Demographic Dividend; A Call to Action’, calling for a funded 10 year national plan to enable Tanzania’s young people to reach their potential. Afterwards the real celebrations will begin with the launch of a new song reflecting the country’s hopes for the future called Chagua Maisha or Good Life.
Ulla Muller said: “Tanzania has a choice. If we do nothing, this historic opportunity for greater prosperity will be lost, but if we choose to invest in our rapidly maturing young population with family planning and education, Tanzania could enjoy a unique demographic boost to the whole economy.”