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Gender Division Permanent Secretary, Mainga Kabika has commended the works that the gallant mother, the First Lady of the Republic of Zambia, Mrs. Mutinta Hichilema is doing towards ending child marriages in the country.
Ms Kabika says Government of the Republic of Zambia together with its various stakeholders and cooperating partners recognises that child marriage is an issue that requires urgent and concerted efforts to address.
The Permanent Secretary adds that the Government together with its partners remain aware of the many challenges that contribute and result from child marriages.
Ms Kabika was speaking during an engagement meeting on ending child marriage in katete of eastern Province.
She said It is for this reason that Government working with its partners has intensified efforts to eliminate child marriages in the country.
“” As you may be aware, Zambia is a beacon of ending child marriage in the continent with our republican President, Mr. Hakainde Hichilema being the African Champion in ending child marriages”, she said.
Ms Kabika further said the government of Zambia through the leadership of President Hakainde Hichilema has put in place various measures aimed at ending child marriages in our country.
“” Just upon being elected into office after the victorious 2021 general elections, the government made a pronouncement in the education for all policy with an inclusion of Free Education. This policy was aimed at providing user fees, examination and PTA fee free education from early childhood to secondary levels. This meant that learners could attend school without paying any user fees and additionally write exams at grade 7, 9 and 12 fully sponsored by the government. The persistence of Child Marriage in Zambia is strongly linked to limited access to education. In this regard, the Consortium of institutions involved in the implementation of programming on ending child marriage will leverage on the education for all policy to implement programmes that encourage girls and boys to remain in school, “she stated.
She further stated that various projects such as the GEWEL have also supplemented government efforts in increasing access to education for vulnerable girls.
“” The project has so far supported over 148,616 girls with secondary school bursaries in 65 selected districts of the country. This has contributed to reducing risks of early marriages in vulnerable communities where the scourge is high,”” Ms Kabika stated.
She stressed that the Gender Division has also participated in the review of various legislations and strategies all aimed at strengthening the fight against child marriages.
“” I wish to mention that the gender division is finalizing the review of the Strategy on Ending Child Marriage. The strategy underlines the Government’s commitment towards ending child marriage by 2030 and it outlines the strategic focus areas of interventions and key milestones to be achieved,”” she said.
“” It is, therefore, exciting that Zambia now will have various tools for managing Child marriages which are instruments representing good practice based on the consensus,”” she said.
Ms Kabika further said The country has seen an increase in the use of social media mostly by youths.
She pointed out that as a Division, they want to leverage on this increase in use as it presents an opportunity for ending child marriage in Zambia by providing a platform for awareness-raising, advocacy, and community mobilization.
“” Social media allows for the dissemination of information about the harmful effects of child marriage, promotes dialogue on gender equality and human rights, and connects individuals and organizations working towards its eradication,”” she stated.
Ms Kabika added that additionally, social media campaigns can empower young people to speak out against child marriage, share their stories, and access support networks, ultimately contributing to shifting societal attitudes and norms towards ending this harmful practice.
She reaffirmd the Division’s commitment to working with all relevant stakeholders to make a complete turnaround for the enhancement and protection of children’s rights in Zambia as it is well acknowledged that children are the building blocks of any nation.