First lady calls for a collective action to ban child marriage in Mozambique

First lady calls for a collective action to ban child marriage in Mozambique

The first Lady of the Republic of Mozambique Isaura Nyusi pledged to work to fight high levels of child marriage and adolescent pregnancy in the country, as she launched a three-year programme to support the implementation of the National Strategy to Prevent and Eliminate Child Marriage 2016-2019.

Claudio Fauvrelle
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PEMBA, Cabo Delgado - “Mothers and fathers, we do not want to lose our childhood, we do not want to get married and become mothers. We are just children, with dreams for a healthy and happy life,” read the statement of Mozambican Children’s Parliament representing children across all country at the end of the High Level National Seminar to Prevent and Address Child Marriage and Adolescent Pregnancy organized by the Office of the First Lady of the Republic of Mozambique with support from UNICEF.

“We need to fight child marriage, one of the main causes of infant and maternal mortality in our country,” said the first Lady of the Republic of Mozambique Isaura Nyusi. © UNICEF Mozambique/2017/M.Sani

“We need to fight child marriage, one of the main causes of infant and maternal mortality in our country,” said the first Lady of the Republic of Mozambique Isaura Nyusi, who pledged to work to fight high levels of child marriage and adolescent pregnancy in the country, as she launched a three-year programme to support the implementation of the National Strategy to Prevent and Eliminate Child Marriage 2016-2019.

“Children subjected to marriage and forced unions are not only deprived of their childhood and uprooted from family, school and friends, but also are extremely vulnerable to abuse, violence and HIV/AIDS” said Edina Kozma, UNICEF Child Protection Specialist in her address representing UN and calling upon those present to unite efforts and act as custodians in their communities and provinces.

Children subjected to marriage and forced unions are not only deprived of their childhood and uprooted from family, school and friends, but also are extremely vulnerable to abuse, violence and HIV/AIDS.

Strong calls were made, and supported by many religious and traditional leaders present, to address harmful practices contributing to child marriage and adolescent pregnancy, and regulate initiation rites by increasing the age of girls and ensuring holding off the rites during school holiday period, as well as addressing elements of sexual initiation through ceremonies of “cleansing and purification” and using girls in exchange for settlement of debts.

High-level commitments and calls were made by Ministers and Parliamentarians to amend the Family Law to harmonize the age of marriage for both boys and girls to 18 years without exceptions, and revise the Education Ministry Decree 39, to ensure that pregnant girls are able to continue their regular schooling with dignity and appropriate protection.  

Mozambique has a high prevalence of child marriage, with 1 in every 7 Mozambican girls between the ages of 20 and 24 married before 15 years of age, while almost one in two within the same age group married or in union before 18 according to the National Demographic Health Survey 2011.

UNICEF, UNFPA, and other partners are supporting the implementation of the National Strategy to Prevent and Eliminate Child Marriage, within the framework of Global Programme to Accelerate Action to End Child Marriage, supported by the Governments of Canada, Netherlands, UK, Italy, Sweden, and EU.   The Seminar was also attended by the First Lady of the Republic of Zambia and the Princess of Swaziland.

 

For more information, please contact:

Claudio Fauvrelle
Tel +258 21 481 100
email: cfauvrelle@unicef.org

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