Early marriage rate worries FAWEZA

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The Forum for African Women Educationalists of Zambia (FAWEZA) says the rate of child marriages in Zambia is alarming.

FAWEZA chief executive officer Agnes Shipanuka said this therefore calls for concerted efforts to ensure that child marriages were eradicated in order to save young girls from getting married at a tender age.

Ms. Shipanuka said one of the major contributors to early child marriages in Zambia was extreme poverty among many households.

She said this today when she appeared on the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) programme dubbed, “challenges of school dropout in Zambia”.

She noted that FAWEZA was working hard to fight early marriages.

Ms. Shipanuka further disclosed that Chama district in Muchinga province has the highest number of young girls involved in early marriages currently standing at 60 percent.

She however lamented that FAWEZA was faced with many financial challenges which have made the NGO fail to operate fully in the area of fighting early marriages in Zambia.

She said financial challenges being faced by FAWEZA were as a result of major donors such as Netherlands and Danish governments who have pulled out from assisting the forum.

And speaking at the same forum, Zambia Open Community Schools (ZOCS) director Harriet Miyato said government and other concerned stakeholders should join hands to fight early girl marriages in Zambia.

Ms. Miyato said according to the report of 2012 of the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), over 5,000 children were out of school due to factors such as early marriages and poverty.

She said some children dropout of school mainly because parents cannot afford to pay for their school fees.

Ms. Miyato said girl children from rural parts of the country were the most affected by early marriages.

She said this situation should be urgently corrected.