Zambia is to host the First African Girls’ Summit on Ending Child Marriage in Africa, the African Union (AU) said in a statement on Saturday.
The African Girls’ Summit is scheduled to take place from Nov.26 to 27 in Lusaka, Zambia, according to the statement.
Welcoming the decision by AU to organize the First African Girls’ Summit in Zambia, Zambia’s Minister of Gender and Child Development Nkanda Luo, said the event would accelerate the country’s effort in the fight against child marriage through sharing of experiences with other AU member states.
“As a nation, we are excited to have been given this great opportunity to host this important event, which will accelerate our effort in the fight against child marriage through sharing of experiences with other Member States,” said the minister.
The African Girls’ Summit on ending child marriage in Africa will help highlighting significant problems affecting the girl child in Africa, as well as engendering the change that needs to happen to prevent the continuous violation of the rights of children, said the statement.
“Projections for Africa illustrate that with no intervention in the next decade to stop child marriages from occurring, 14.2 million girls under 18 years will be married every year, translating into 39,000 girls married each day,” noted the statement.
“Child marriages are a strong reflection of pervasive gender discrimination and have devastating effects on the girl-child and the society,” said the statement.
AU considers this as a major hindrance to the development of the continent, thus the launching of a continent wide campaign by the AU Commission in May 2014 to end the harmful practice of child marriage in Africa, according to the statement.
Expressing delight about the decision by the Government of Zambia to host the summit, Mustapha Sidiki Kaloko, AU Commissioner for Social Affairs, noted that African Girls’ Summit is timely and in the context of AU’s theme for 2015 – Year of Women’s Empowerment and Development towards Agenda 2063.
“AU is committed to advocating in a coordinated and concerted manner, against negative practices that impinge on or contravene the rights and welfare of the child, in particular the girl-child,” he said.
Zambia has one of the highest child marriage rates in Africa with 42 percent of women aged 20-24 years marrying before the age of 18, in spite of setting a minimum age of marriage for boys and girls at 21, said the statement.
By accepting to host the African Girl’s Summit, as well as the Regional Capacity Building Workshop on Ending Child Marriage in Africa, Zambia offers evidence toward the commitment of African governments in ensuring that resolutions are implemented nationally with emphasis on the impact on the lives of people at the community level, noted the statement.
“We applaud the Republic of Zambia and other Member States of the African Union for their commitment to ending child marriage in their respective countries,” said Kaloko.