Minister of Gender and Development Hon. Professor Nkandu Luo has said that President Edgar Chagwa Lungu is very passionate about girls and women rights and eliminating Child, Early and Forced Marriages (CEFM).
And Africa Union campaign to End Child Marriage goodwill Ambassador Nyaradyayi Gumbonzvanda has said, Zambia has good practices on ending Child Early and Forced Marriages and that the country should share more on their success so that other countries can learn from them.
Addressing different key stakeholders at a strategic Brainstorming session on Ending Child Early and Forced Marriages in London at Canada house on March 1, Prof. Luo who was accompanied by First Secretary-Trade Irene Chengo Mudenda, said that President Lungu and the Zambian Government wanted to eliminate Child, Early and Forced Marriages in Zambia.
She explained that Zambia has been able to reach where it is today on ending Child, Early and Forced Marriages because the nation realised that CEFM was a problem that was affecting the economic development of the nation and deterring women from taking up decision making positions due to lack of education.
“President Lungu is passionate about girls and women rights. He does not want to hear the word-End- when it comes to Child, Early and Forced Marriages,rather what the President wants to hear is- Eliminate-the scourge. The success of the interventions lies in the collective efforts of President Lungu, the Zambian Government, the civil society, the communities, the private sector, chiefs and many others in Zambia who all have demonstrated the will to eliminate Child Early and Forced Marriages, and this is how we are working together. We are organised,” she said.
The minister said the strategic Brainstorming session on Ending Child Early and Forced Marriages in London, provided details on how countries were implementing the process,adding that the organisations that were present were able to explain the process, channels and tools that are used to attain the milestone towards eliminating CEFM.
She further said that the meeting provided a platform for countries to share and learn from each other the challenges and successes towards eliminating the scourge.
Prof. Luo also said the Ministry of Gender and Development has come up with policies and programmes that seek to reduce women and girl’s poverty through a project called ,Girls’ Education and Women’s Empowerment and Livelihoods (GEWEL).
The minister said that the GEWEL project will empower families of girls that have been removed or affected by Child Early and Forced Marriages and her Ministry has since raised $ 65 million from private partners, money that will facilitate the programme.
She said the families will be empowered with livelihoods that will enable them have enough food at home and take the girls back to school.
“We want women to be empowered. Women lack self esteem and love for themselves and this is why we want to empower them so that they can provide for their families as well. We also have a programme called boys to men where we will be working with boys. We want boys to start respecting girls and see them as cooperating partners,” she said.
And Ambassador Gumbonzvanda said it was important that girls who are forced into marriages are helped and taken back to school. She said it was important for heads of States to acknowledge that Child, Early and Forced Marriages is a serious thing which needs everyone’s participation if it has to end.
In 2013, the Zambian government launched a national-wide campaign to end child marriage, spearheaded by the Ministry of Chiefs and Tradition Affairs, the campaign prioritised engagement with tradition leaders and law reforms. The Government is also taking steps to put child marriages at the forefront of the regional and International agenda. In November 2015, Zambia co-hosted the first-ever African Girls’ Summit on Ending Child Marriage.