15 million girls across the globe become brides each year according to the UN, such marriages stealing childhood and their potential to fulfill their own purpose to thrive as global citizens.
With each continent having a role to play in addressing this global oppressive phenomenon, the AU launched a campaign to end child marriage in Africa in May of last year. Through ending child marriage through legal policies and actions in the protection and promotion of human rights, awareness mobilization campaigns and building social movements and mobilizations at the grassroots and national levels, Zimbabwe is the most recent country to launch this campaign.
Speaking at the national launch of the campaign at the Harare International Conference Centre, Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda noted that with such staggering statistics from the UN, we must move from vulnerability to voice and leadership. “Child molesters, paedophiles, and rapists should not be allowed to get away with lenient sentences such as community service. Child marriage is a tragedy for the girl child, her unborn children and her country’s development” she further added.
Under the theme “we are girls, not brides” Zimbabwe is looking at a hefty challenge in reducing the number of child marriages to zero – as in rural or poor communities, Zimbabwe has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the continent. 31% of Zimbabwean girls are married off before their 18th birthday and a further 4% get married before they turn 15.
With this year being African Unions year of Women Empowerment and Development towards Agenda 2063, Zimbabwe is the 8th country to adopt this campaign. Its predecessors being Ethiopia, Niger, Burkina Faso, DRC, Chad, Uganda and Madagascar. Steadily, we can move towards and Africa where youth, man or woman can play a pivotal role in our development with girls and boys choosing the opt to the life they want to live within the fragments of human rights.