Published on August 24,2015
LUSAKA, The Zambian government has offered to host a girls’ summit aimed at finding ways of ending child marriage on the African continent, the African Union (AU) said in a statement emailed to Xinhua on Monday.
The First African Girls’ Summit on Ending Child Marriages in Africa, to be held from November 26 to 27 in Lusaka, the country’s capital, will bring together high level officials from AU members, including heads of state and government and first ladies, high level United Nations dignitaries, international organizations, civil society organizations, as well as community and religious leaders and other stakeholders, according to the statement.
Zambia’s Minister of Gender and Child Development Professor Nkandu Luo said Zambia was excited to be given an opportunity to host the event, which she said will accelerate the country’s efforts in the fight against child marriage through sharing of experiences with other countries, it added.
The summit will help highlight significant problems affecting the girl child in Africa as well as engendering the change that needs to happen to prevent the continuous violation of the rights of children.
AU Commissioner for Social Affairs Mustapha Sidiki-Kaloko said the summit was timely and in line with the AU’s theme for 2015 which is Year of Women’s Empowerment and Development towards Agenda 2063.
“The AU is committed to advocating in a coordinated and concerted manner, against negative practices that impinge on or contravene the rights and welfare of the child, in particular the girl child,” he said.
Zambia has one of the highest child marriage rates in Africa with 42 percent of women aged between 20 and 24 years marrying before the age of 18, in spite of setting a minimum age of marriage for boys and girls at 21.
Projections for Africa show that with no intervention in the next decade to stop child marriages from occurring, 14.2 million girls under 18 years will be married every year, translating into 39,000 girls each day, according to the statement.
The AU launched a continent wide campaign in May 2014 to end the harmful practice of child marriage in Africa because of the negative effects it has on the girl child.