Johannesburg, South Africa – 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 from the Dutch government, from 3 to 4 February 2015.
The regional dialogue was part of the “No, I don’t” Programme, based on Plan’s 18+ Programme which has as an overall goal to contribute towards ending child marriage in the southern Africa region.
During the dialogue, a discussion on the issue of child marriage, the causes and driving forces behind it, its effects, consequences and overall impact took place. The aim was to sensitise 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 the rights girls have regarding their health, education and childhood.
The Regional Parliamentary Dialogue on Child Marriage Laws brought together representatives from: the Southern African Development Community Parliamentary Forum (SADC-PF), SADC Secretariat; experts; parliamentarians from the following priority countries (Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe); and representatives from Plan and AWEPA. Read The Role of Parliamentarians in Ending Child Marriage Toolkit here.
Worldwide, more than 700 million women alive today were married before their 18th birthday. More than one in three (about 250 million) entered into union before age 15. Girls who marry are not only denied their childhood. They are often socially isolated with limited opportunities for education and employment. Consequences of child marriages are affecting more than only the individual. Child marriage continues poverty and gender inequality and therefore affects families, communities and countries. The South African region has one of the highest numbers of child marriage. More than 50% of girls in Mozambique and 40% of girls in Zambia marry before the age of 18. The causes are complex and interrelated.