President Edgar Lungu has advised the United Nations that unless efforts to accelerate action to end the scourge of Child Marriage, about 150 million girls risks being forced into early marriage by the year 2030 across the globe.
President Lungu has told the United Nations that the alarming rates of child marriage combined with a rapidly growing population is likely to have devastating consequences on people, especially young girls.
The President has however stated that recent statistic by UNICEF are pointing to the fact that Sub Saharan Africa has been recording the highest prevalence of child marriage while only a modest decline has been recorded over the past decade.
He said addressing child marriage in Africa would not only change the millions of the girls but would also provide nations with a window of opportunity for harnessing Africa’s demographic dividend through investment in young people.
The President said this when he chaired a High Level event on Ending Child Early and Forced Marriage under the theme: “Accelerating Action to Eliminate Child Marriage,” and was jointly hosted by Zambia and Canada.
The Head of State commended the African Union Commission (AU), UNICEEF, UNFPA and UN Women for their continued support to efforts to end child marriage by the year 2030.
He sad over half the girls who are child brides belong to the poorest households and most disadvantaged families in the world.
“Globally, close to 1 in 3 of the recently married brides are in the Sub-Saharan Africa, compared to 25 years ago when the proportion was 1 in 7 of the girl child were married off. For Zambia, an estimated 31 percent of women aged between 20 and 24 are married by the age of 18. While efforts to end this practice are beginning to bear fruit in some regions, the rate of progress in other regions particularly in Africa has been remarkably slow. Unless we do more and accelerate action to end child marriage, another 150 million girls will be married off by the year 2030,” His Excellency President Lungu said.
President Lungu stated that having been designated by the African leadership to champion efforts to end child marriage in Africa, he was pleased to inform the United Nations that Africa’s wide campaign against child marriage coupled with legislative and policy reforms was beginning to yield positive results.
He informed the UN that in 2016, Zambia launched the Ending Child Marriage Strategy aimed at strengthening responses of all stakeholders in addressing the vulnerabilities and consequences of Child Marriage.
“My government recognises that education of the girl child is critical to fighting child marriage. It also has the potential to reduce teenage pregnancies. In order to increase girls’ access to education, Zambia with the support from the World Bank has since 2016 been implementing the Girls Education and women Empowerment and women’s Empowerment and Livelihood (JEWEL) Project,” President Lungu said.