For an increasing number of African girls and women, upgrading the level of education has become a strategy for life improvement. This paper analyses the role that family plays in enabling women's education and contributes to understanding on the interconnectivity of education, work and family in women's lives in collective societies. The analysis focuses on how young Tanzanian women perceive the role of family and education in their ‘youth task’, of becoming adult. The analysis is based on interviews with seven young Tanzanian women enrolled in non-formal secondary education and nine professional women enrolled in higher education. The results show that the women were determined to pursue higher levels of education and committed to continuous self-improvement. The women identified family both as a motivator of further education and as a constraint for their individual aims and ambitions. Respecting and maintaining good family relations were given priority over individual aims and decisions. Consequently, the reasons for women to educate themselves were drawn from the overall benefits to the future of the family and the society at large. Findings suggest a major role of the family in determining the success in improving education and professional advancement of girls and women in Tanzania.