UN Women Partner With UNICEF In Campaign Against Child Marriages


UN Women Zimbabwe Representative Fatou Aminata Lo Speaking at the Launch. (Photo: UN Women/Innocent Katsande)
UN Women Zimbabwe Representative Fatou Aminata Lo Speaking at the Launch. (Photo: UN Women/Innocent Katsande)

UN Women in Zimbabwe on June 14 partnered UNICEF to launch an anti-child marriages and women empowerment campaign in commemoration of the Day of the African Child.  

Speaking at the Media event, UN Women representative Fatou Aminata Lo said: “We owe it to the girls of this country to enforce the recently passed marriage law so that girls can be seen for what they are: girls not brides; not free labour, and not commodities.” Highlighting that ending child marriages required much more than legislation, she added: “It needs behavioural change in the community, whereby community leaders, parents and caregivers, elderly men and women influence children and speak out against child marriages.”

One woman out of three in Zimbabwe aged 20 to 49 is married before the age of 18. And 5% of girls are married before the age of 15 according to the Multiple Cluster Survey of 2019.  In the United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework (UNSDCF), Ending violence against children and child marriage has been identified as one of the Country Advocacy Priorities.

Speaking at the launch, the United Nations Resident Coordinator Edward Kallon said: “Unless we accelerate our efforts to fight child marriages, according to estimates, 150 million more girls will be married by 2030. Concerns cannot be full and free when one party is not sufficiently mature to make informed choices about life.”

UNICEF representative, Dr Tajudeen Oyewale, said the Constitutional Court judgment is a step towards elimination of child marriages, while this legislation is important, it is not enough. “We need behavioural changes in communities and throughout the society”, he added.

UNFPA country representative, Esther Muia, urged policymakers, communities, gatekeepers, religious and traditional leaders and the media to assist in ending child marriages.

“They bring physical and mental problems to the young girls including sexual diseases. In Zimbabwe, the new cases of HIV infections are the highest in the 15-19 age groups, and the girls are six times more infected than the boys. Parent-child communication should be encouraged as it yields a lot of positive results, and men should also be involved in condoning harmful practices and fight child marriages,” Muia said.

To ensure effective communication of the message, the Campaign is working with Zimbabwe-born Aston Villa football star Marvelous Nakamba, singer Selmor Mtukudzi and rugby star Tendai (The Beast) Mtawarira to promote the role of women in society and to end child marriages. The campaign will also call on community members to become role models and support adolescent girls to reach their full potential.