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Child marriage remains an urgent problem in East and Southern Africa

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Child marriage remains an urgent problem in East and Southern Africa

While more than 25 million child marriages have been avoided over the past decade globally, progress has been more uneven in East and Southern Africa

NEW YORK, United States of America, October 8, 2021 / APO Group / –

Each year, 12 million girls around the world marry, adding to an estimated 650 million child brides, and in Eastern and Southern Africa, 31% of girls are married before the age of 18 , which signals a constant violation of the human rights of girls. rights.

Child marriage compromises the health, education and safety of girls. This often prevents them from realizing their full economic and social potential and puts girls at increased risk for sexual violence, unsafe teenage pregnancies, obstetric fistula and HIV. Some 95 in 1,000 girls give birth between the ages of 15 and 19, before their bodies are ready for a safe delivery, resulting in death and injury to many young mothers. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals include a goal on gender equality, which aims to end child marriage by 2030.

Derail the future of girls

Despite new universal commitments to end child marriage globally, it remains the toxic product of gender inequality and poverty. Being able to choose to marry later improves girls’ chances of continuing their education and protecting their sexual and reproductive health, as girls under 16 are more likely to experience complications during childbirth. Their marriages as children are rarely of their own choosing and, on the contrary, are forced upon them.

Anandita Philipose, youth and gender specialist at UNFPA’s regional office for eastern and southern Africa, said: “While more than 25 million child marriages have been prevented over the past decade in around the world, progress has been more uneven in East and Southern Africa, inequalities, the devastating socio-economic impact of COVID-19 and multiple humanitarian and climate crises are hampering the good work that has been done to end this practice harmful. To change this trajectory, we must accelerate our actions to end child marriage. “

End child marriage

On October 11-12, 2021, UNFPA and UNICEF will host a virtual meeting to mark the 5th anniversary of the UNFPA-UNICEF Global Program to End Child Marriage (GPECM) in the Eastern and Southern Africa region.

GPECM protects and promotes the rights of adolescent girls to prevent marriage and pregnancy, and addresses the underlying conditions that support child marriage. The program has empowered 7.9 million adolescent girls in 12 of the highest prevalence or high burden countries in Africa and beyond in its first four years (2016-2019). In the Eastern and Southern Africa region, the program has been implemented in Ethiopia, Mozambique, Uganda and Zambia.

The fifth anniversary celebrations will showcase the tremendous work being undertaken in the region to end child marriage, empower adolescent girls and young women to reach their potential, make healthy decisions about their bodies, and provide them with services and support. information they need. The virtual event will reflect on the progress made and how to build on the successes to date, incorporating new and emerging issues to move the agenda forward in the region.

Mona Aika, Child Protection Specialist, UNICEF Regional Office for Eastern and Southern Africa, said: “Ethiopia’s progress over the past decade is one of the most important among the countries of eastern and southern Africa. Levels have declined over the past three decades, and progress has accelerated over the past 10 years. It is possible to reduce the rate of child marriage with a combination of proven interventions. “

High-level speakers at the event include the Vice-President of Zambia, Her Excellency Mutale Nalumango, and the tireless advocate for children, Ms. Graça Machel. Other speakers include Boemo Sekgoma, Secretary General of SADC-PF, Mohamed Fall, UNICEF Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa, Dr Bannet Ndyanabangi, UNFPA Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa , as well as government officials, community and traditional leaders, academics, donors and youth advocating for an end to child marriage in the region. The event will be moderated by South African personality and gender activist Hlubi Mboya.

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