This year’s Idd-ul-Fitr has come with the best present for the girl child ever in Tanzania—the pledge by the Muslim Council of Tanzania (Bakwata) to join efforts aimed at ending child marriage.

This is good news to all those who for years have been campaigning towards ensuring that girl children enjoyed their basic rights to the full as they develop their full potential.

According to the Tanzania Demographic & Health Survey 2015/16, the country has one of the highest child marriage prevalence rates in the world.

On average 36 per cent of the girls aged 20-24 were married before age 18. The Law of Marriage of 1971, which activists have been calling for its amendment, allows for boys to marry at 18 and girls at 14 and 15 of age.

This puts girls at a disadvantage as most are denied basic rights including enjoying childhood benefits of association with both parents, right to basic needs, accessing education to develop their potential, health, and protection against domestic violence.

The 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) clearly defines a child as “any human being below the age of eighteen years”. It is for this reason we think that the commitment made by Bakwata, which is a powerful body tasked with uniting Muslims and fostering their wellbeing in the country, is a huge plus to the efforts aimed at fighting early marriages in Tanzania.

Once child marriages are stopped, it is the entire country and humanity that stands to benefit in multiple ways. Experts have it that education benefits entire countries--both on personal and national levels. It has been shown to increase economic growth and stability, and create happier and healthier lives.

One of the most important benefits of education is how it improves personal lives and helps societies run smoothly.

We commend Bakwata for this commitment hoping that more influential personalities and organisations will join in the efforts for the betterment of our country.