Minister of Gender, Elizabeth Phiri, has called for increased efforts in the fight against early marriages in the country and Africa as a whole.
Ms Phiri says there is need for a heightened multi-sectorial approach by all stakeholders to curb the vice.
The Minister has also noted the need for everyone to prioritise activities related to ending child marriages, including places of work.
She was speaking last evening at the reception held to End Child Marriage at Pamodzi Hotel in Lusaka.
The Minister said the commitment that Zambia has demonstrated towards the fight to ending early marriages can be demonstrated by the recognition of President Edgar Lungu as the African Union Champion on ending child marriages.
She said the Zambian government has played and continues to take a leading role in raising awareness on the matter.
Ms Phiri further said that there is also need to continue embracing traditional leaders and their spouses in order for them to continue with their leadership role in the fight against early marriages among their subjects.
The Minister further commended the UN family and other cooperating partners for the support rendered to the Zambian government in curbing the vice.
And United Nations Resident Coordinator, Coumba Gadio emphasised on the need to ensure that the commitment to combating early marriages is renewed.
Dr. Gadio noted that child marriages represents multiple violations of child rights as it brings an end to schooling, exposes girls to gender based violence, teenage pregnancies and risks of contracting sexually transmitted infections including HIV/AIDS among others.
The UN Resident Coordinator commended the Zambian government’s leadership in seeking to end child marriages.
Meanwhile, Ministry of General Education Permanent Secretary, Jobbicks Kalumba, proposed a 20 year jail sentence for any perpetrator.
Dr. Kalumba noted that child marriages have drastically affected the future of the young generation.
He said his Ministry is working with the Ministry of Gender to ensure that early marriages are curbed especially in rural areas through the District Education Board Secretaries (DEBS).
The Permanent Secretary however noted that there is need to aid the office of the DEBS with transport, to enable them effectively fight early marriages in villages.
The ending child marriage steering committee is a committee formulated under the Global Programme to Accelerate Action towards ending child marriage led by UNFPA and UNICEF.
The programme is being implemented in 12 countries in Africa including Zambia.