UN agencies back fight against child marriages 

Source: UN agencies back fight against child marriages | The Herald November 14, 2019

UN agencies back fight against child marriages

Nesia Mhaka Herald Correspondent

United Nations (UN) agencies have reaffirmed their commitment to support the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education to reduce early and child marriages in Zimbabwe to ensure sustainable development.

The intervention seeks to complement First Lady Amai Auxillia Mnangagwa’s initiatives to reduce child marriages.

Child marriages have become a cause of concern in Zimbabwe, with statistics from last year showing 7 159 children had dropped out of school due to early marriages.

From the statistics, 411 of the affected pupils were in primary school and 6 748 were in secondary school.

Speaking to The Herald yesterday, UNESCO National Programme Specialist for HIV and Health Education Mr Lucas Halimani said the UN has pledged to fully support Zimbabwe to fight against child marriages.

“United Nations agencies and other development partners have pledged to support the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education in fighting against child marriages through providing them with curriculum-based guidance, counselling and life skills education which includes comprehensive information on sexuality and reproductive health, responsible sexual behaviour and prevention of early pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections,” he said.

“The statistics of child marriages are still high and it is, therefore, crucial for development agencies to partner with the Government and come up with more practical solutions in the eradication of child marriages.

“The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education also has a non-formal education policy that provides for formal flexible school programmes, including evening classes or part-time classes for girls who are not able to attend full-time  classes.

“The non-formal education pathway also includes livelihood and entrepreneurial skills training.”

Mr Halimani said poor access to education was one of the major reasons fuelling early child marriages.

“We have seen constitutional pronouncements against marriage for boys and girls below the age of 18,” he said.

“When well implemented in law and practice, this will go a long way in reducing early and unintended pregnancy and giving children a chance at education.

“The effects of child marriages are resulting in higher than average maternal morbidity and mortality rates for 15-19-year-olds, higher infant mortality rate among their children, diminished capacity to responsibly raise their children to be productive citizens, higher rates of violence in child marriages, increased prevalence of HIV, lack of personal and economic autonomy, limited participation in development, limited decision-making in relation to their own lives, weaker economic indicators and weaker ability to climb out of poverty, loss of educational opportunities and social isolation.”

Cabinet recently approved sections which outlaw child marriages.