How we started
Our history starts at the time when the country was in a run up to the enactment of the Law of the Child Act No.21 2009. A group of about twenty (20) CSOs and about two private sectors that have been working with and for children, effectively collaborated to strengthen provisions for children's rights in the new Law under the coordination of the temporarily established Child Law Taskforce. Recognizing the importance of coordinated CSO engagement in the process to advocate for key child rights standards, more CSOs joined force in those advocacy efforts with a huge success. By the end of the time this ground-breaking law to protect the rights of children, which enshrines key international child rights standards was enacted, there were about 40 CSOs.
Following this successful coordinated initiative, the CSO community by then, decided to sustain their collaboration to promote the implementation and monitoring of the progress of the Law of the Child Act 2009 and international child rights standards through the establishment, in 2010, of a permanent child rights network. Following legal assessment of registration framework, the TCRF secretariat was registered in March 2012, as Tanzania Child Rights Forum under the Business Registrations and Licensing Agency (BRELA) as a charity and not for profit Company No. CI 89788. The aim was to ensure that TCRF is legally able to sustain its resource mobilization through various means of not for profit incomes, engaging private sector effectively and allowing the joint ownership and management of the Forum.
What we learn
For a network to perform, mandate has to be clear and has to be non-compromising with the mandate of members. The sustained work of the network especially when engaging with the government has to seek trust, collaboration and build on strength to eliminate threats and maintain potential of existence. Managing and balancing expectations from every Conner is a daily business, clarity and focus can not be under estimated. Secretariat office of a network has to be protected not to convert into another organization, but keep the clear coordination and facilitation mandate. An effective and efficient network is owned and run by members.
Where are we now?
On the ground, we are a point of reference for providing quality standards, information and influence on matters pertaining to children's right. We are working to strengthen independent child led forums in the community and forums of individuals and parents who wish to take active role in child rights defending. In the community, it is where our members are working daily with and for children.
At national level, TCRF is already recognized as a strong partner by the Ministry of Community, Gender and Children and the unifying voice on child rights matters for non-governmental institutions. TCRF is a member of the National Council of NGOs (NACONGO), a legally established body charged with the responsibility of coordinating and self-regulation of NGOs operating in Tanzania and we are managing the secretariat of the council through our member.
At regional level, the TCRF present and actively engaging members in the African Union activities that relate to children's matters, and a member of the Africa Wide Movement for Children (AMC) with active role in coordinating the support for the country commitment with the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC).
At international level, TCRF is also taking active role in engaging the UN Committee of Experts on the CRC and a member of the Child Rights Connect, formally NGO Group for the Convention on the Rights of the Child. TCRF continue to explore other opportunities for international collaboration that will give its members a chance to learn, share their experience and improve their work back home for the wellbeing and welfare of the all children.