Minister of Gender, Elizabeth Phiri, has praised the traditional leadership in Eastern Province for doing away with initiation ceremonies for boys and girls under the age of 18 years, as a way of combating teen pregnancies and early marriages in their chiefdoms.
Ms Phiri has expressed happiness with the decision made by the Chewa traditional leaders, to put to an end some of the traditional norms and cultures that hinder the development of children in their chiefdoms.
She further indicated that the step taken by the traditional leaders is a clear indication of how the government is engaging other stakeholders in combating the scourge.
The Minister told ZANIS in an interview in Lusaka today that her ministry welcomes the development and that she is optimistic that the move taken by the chiefs will largely help bring to an end early marriages and pregnancies.
She added that she is happy that President Edgar Lungu has taken a lead in spearheading the fight against ending child marriages in the country.
And Ms Phiri has advised that all secondary schools that are being constructed across the country, must have dormitories, for easy monitoring of the children when they are within boundaries.
Ms Phiri observed that children are prone to be exposed to different activities as they report to school due to distances between communities and schools, hence the need for all secondary schools to be turned into boarding schools for easy supervision of school-going children, especially girls.
She also hinted that the government will endeavor to empower women, as they mostly play a vital role in educating the girl child.
Recently, the Chewa Chiefs of Eastern Province banned initiation ceremonies for girls under the age of 18 years and initiation of boys into gule wamkulu groups as one way of abolishing norms that negatively affect children.
The Minister of Gender also expressed concern over Eastern Province recording high rates of child marriages and teen pregnancies.