Drop in child marriage rate elates Govt

Thu, 06 Apr 2017 11:01:29 +0000

 

By ANNIE ZULU

THE rate of early marriages in Zambia has reduced from 42% to 31.4%, Minister of Gender Victoria Kalima has said.

Ms Kalima attributed the reduction to interventions implemented and supported by many stakeholders including Government, CSOs, donors and the private sector, among other.

She said despite the decrease in the number of child marriages in Zambia, much needed to be done by all stakeholder.

The Minister was speaking in Chipata at a workshop on ending child marriage organised by The Madzimawe Foundation.

“In Zambia, and in the rest of sub-Saharan Africa, child marriage has continued to be a very serious problem. Until recently, Zambia had one of the highest prevalence of child marriage which stood at 42%.

“Although the rate has dropped to 31.4% due to interventions implemented and supported by stakeholders, it still remains very high and more needs to be done,” Ms Kalima said.

She reaffirmed Government’s commitment and political will to ending child marriage in Zambia.

Ms Kalima said Government had put up measures in place aimed at ending the vice.

She said child marriage was a human rights violation which robbed both girls and boys of their right to health, education and personal development.

She also reiterated that the vice was an impediment to efforts that support sustainable national development because it perpetuates a vicious cycle of poverty and destitution by keeping girls and young women from attaining their full potential.

“My ministry is the Secretariat of a consortium of 11 other ministries that have been tasked to provide a multi-sectoral response to child marriage in Zambia.

“It is responsible for strengthening coordination at all levels, raise awareness and sensitisation on child marriage, facilitate the review of policy and legislation related to child marriage, building capacities of stakeholders at all levels, mobilization of funds and facilitating service delivery to addressing the vulnerabilities and consequences of child marriage,” she said.

Ms Kalima also commended Chief Madzimawe for coming up with the initiative aimed at ending child marriage in his area.

She recognised that Eastern province is among the regions of the country with a very high child marriage prevalence of 44.9%.

She hoped that the Madzimawe Foundation would contribute effectively to achieving Government’s vision of ‘A Zambia free of child marriage by 2030’ as well as to achieving its goal of ‘a 40% reduction in child marriage by 2021’.

And Madzimawe Foundation Executive Director Susan Kandeta appealed to Government for financial assistance to enable the Foundation achieve its objective and contribute to the Government’s efforts in ending child marriages in the country.

Ms Kandeta said since inception last year, Madzimawe Foundation had held workshops to raise awareness in the community.

She indicated that the Foundation did not have a permanent donor support, hence its programmes were highly dependent on well-wishers and institutional partners who have recognised and appreciated the efforts.

“Organising and mobilising resources to hold the workshops and other MF programmes requires immense resources. Currently, we are relying on our cooperating partners who have given us both financial and material support. Therefore, I would like to appeal to Government for more assistance.

“We believe that given adequate resources to support our strategy, we will be able to positively impact on the community going by the overwhelming support we have received from the same community,” Ms Kandeta said.

She said the Foundation’s objective was to raise awareness and sensitize the community on the dangers and consequences of child marriage.

“We believe that Education is the cornerstone of ending child marriage. Our findings and interaction with the young girls thus far, has revealed a number of issues such as lack of sponsorship, guardians abuse of dependants, peer pressure and ignorance by parents and guardians, thereby forcing the girls into early marriage, mainly as a result of poverty among others are hindering the girls in attaining an education,” she said.

Ms Kandeta disclosed that the Foundation had put in place interventions towards ending child marriages in Chief Madzimawe’s area.

“We have taken a three phased approach and that is raising awareness and sensitization – using such tools as workshops, such as this one and community outreach campaigns.

“We are also supporting girl’s education, statistics shows that this vice affects girls more than boys. This is one reason, among others, that we started a program to support those girls who are at risk of dropping out of school for non-payment of school fees and meeting other requirements in an effort to keep them in school.

“Lastly, we are supporting girls who have dropped out of school, we also take cognizance of the fact that not all the girls, especially those already married and with children want to enrol or re-enrol in school, so we empower them with skills,” she said.

 

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