Amsterdam, the Netherlands – AWEPA celebrates the Day of the African Child (DAC), commemorated each year on 16th June by the African Union (AU) and its partners. The DAC is a day for governments, communities and NGOs to assess their work and renew their on-going commitments towards improving the plight of children.
The theme for this year’s celebrations is “Accelerating our Collective Efforts to End Child Marriage in Africa.”
Child marriage can have devastating and long term effects on the physical, emotional and mental health of children. These children are not only denied their childhood; they are often socially isolated with limited opportunities for education and employment. Child marriage is therefore an issue of human rights, gender, health and culture, as well as a development issue.
Worldwide, more than 700 million women alive today were married before their 18th birthday. Of those, more than 1 in 3 (about 250 million) entered into union before age 15. Africa has the second highest rates of child marriage in world, after South Asia. More than 50% of girls in Mozambique and 40% of girls in Zambia marry before the age of 18.
— Girls Not Brides (@GirlsNotBrides) February 7, 2015
Throughout 2015, AWEPA has implemented activities with parliamentarians across a number of African communities to contribute to efforts to end child marriage, in the framework of its programme against Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C). AWEPA aims to continue this work into the future, and has already begun arrangements for its next National Workshop on Child Marriage Laws, to be held in Zambia, on 23-24 June 2015.
Earlier this year, the 18th Conference of the Network of Women Parliamentarians of Central Africa (RFPAC), organised by AWEPA on 5-6 March 2015, in Gabon, focused on the subject of “the Role of Women Parliamentarians in the Protection of Young Girls Facing Early Marriages and Pregnancies” and resulted to a list of recommendations comprising legislative measures (laws that guarantee 18 as the minimum legal age of marriage for both boys and girls), as well as implementation strategies (national monitoring, raising awareness) and plans regarding the allocation of appropriate technical, financial and human resources.
Moreover, in February 2015, the Southern African Development Community Parliamentary Forum (SADC-PF) and AWEPA co-hosted a Regional Parliamentary Dialogue on Child Marriage Laws, in cooperation with Plan and supported by the Dutch government, aiming at sensitising the Members of SADC-PF about the issue of child marriage and its consequences and convince them to take action within their respective Parliament to condemn child marriage as a violation of human rights.