His Excellency Mr. Edgar Chagwa Lungu President of the Republic of Zambia has met the African Union (AU)Commissioner for Social Affairs Her Excellency Amira El Fadil who briefed President Lungu on the progress made by African Union member states regarding the campaign to end Child Marriage on the African continent.
Ms Amira El Fadil paid the courtesy call on the President his capacity as the Continental Champion against this scourge, and the briefing was intended to prepare the President for his report to the forthcoming African Union Summit scheduled for Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from 3rd to 4th July, 2017.
Welcoming the AU Commissioner today at State House, the President bemoaned the negative impact of child marriage on children whose qualitative lives are curtailed before they acquire an education which would have gone a long way in realising their full potential.
The President acknowledged that Zambia like other African countries is adversely affected by the negative repercussions of child marriage and that if implications of this challenge are not addressed, this would undermine the development of Zambia and the entire African continent in sectors such as health, education, gender equality and economic empowerment.
“In view of this realisation, Zambia decided to launch its campaign against child marriage. Zambia has embarked upon a multi-sectoral approach where line ministries have formed a consortium to draw synergies and linkages to ensure that all aspects of the development of the girl-child and also the vulnerable boys are addressed in a comprehensive manner. The Civil Society has also come on board, by forming a network to campaign against child marriages,” the President said.
The President revealed during the meeting that Zambia has recorded a reduction in early child marriage cases from 60 percent in 2013 to 45 percent in 2017 and attributed this to the multisectoral approach by Government to fight the practice, including political will from the Presidency and the First Lady’s Office.
During the meeting the President also presented the National Strategy, the National Plan of Action and other documents that the country has been using in the campaign on ending child marriage in Zambia.
The meeting at State House was also attended by Zambia’s Gender Minister Victoria Kalima and the Ministry’s Permanent Secretary Edwidge Mutale.
During the African Union Heads of State and Government Summit which took place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in January this year, the President championed a high level platform to assess the state of the implementation of the Common African Position on Ending Child Marriage, particularly in countries where the AU campaign had been launched nationally. The meeting also identified concrete steps towards the establishment of a High Level Monitoring and Follow up Panel/Forum for the Implementation of the Common African Position.
The African Common Position on Ending Child Marriage was adopted by Heads of State and Government who included the President at the mid-year Assembly in June 2015. This adoption followed the continental AU campaign to End Child Marriage which was launched by the Commission of the African Union in May 2014.
Arising from this Assembly, the Commission was requested to develop a comprehensive Action Plan for monitoring the Implementation of the African Common Position and report to the Assembly on progress made towards ending child marriage in Africa, biennially.