Britain will lead international efforts to end child marriage within a generation, Justine Greening pledged yesterday during a trip to Zambia (Wednesday 9th July).
Making the pledge ahead of a regional conference to end the practice in Africa, Ms. Greening committed to direct more resource towards preventing girls in the developing world from becoming child brides.
Speaking from Lusaka, Justine Greening said:
“No country will ever truly reach its full potential if half the population are denied the chance to reach theirs. However child marriage is often neglected as too difficult, too sensitive or too entrenched to tackle.
“Too many girls and women across the globe are still being locked out of progress and denied a chance to write their own future.
“A growing number of countries like Zambia, working to eradicate child marriage themselves, are giving us an unprecedented opportunity to end child marriage in a generation.
“Britain is determined to play our part and we are hosting a major international summit later this month aiming at end this practice in a generation.’
Child, early and forced marriage affects 14 million girls every year worldwide. In Zambia, 42 per cent of women and girls are married by the age of 18.
This also has wider consequences for their families, communities and countries. Complications of pregnancy and childbirth are a leading cause of death among adolescent girls aged 15-19. Girls who give birth before the age of 15 are significantly more likely to die in childbirth than girls in their 20.The children of child brides are 60 per cent more likely to die before their first birthday than the children of mothers who are over 19.
In addition, girls who marry young are more likely to be poor and stay poor. Delaying marriage and enabling girls to improve their education, health and job opportunities helps to break the cycle of poverty that can pass from generation to generation.
The UK’s call to action comes ahead of the UK’s Girl Summit 2014 in London on the 22nd July. Hosted by the UK Government and UNICEF, the summit will mobilise domestic and international efforts to end female genital mutilation and child and forced marriage within a generation.
Justine Greening will set out the UK’s call during Zambia’s Regional Symposium on ending child marriage in the evening of the 9th July. The symposium will be hosted by Zambia’s Chiefs and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkandu Luo and the First Lady Dr Christine Kaseba.
In Zambia, over the next 3 years the UK has committed to:
• Help an additional 30,000 girls into primary and secondary school through £37.5 million support to Zambia’s education sector.
• Provide technical and vocational training to 13,000 graduates and offer 1,000 scholarships for under-privileged females, rural youth and disabled people to ensure even the most vulnerable have the chance to get a job through a £15 million programme.
• Support 10,000 adolescent girls in rural and urban Zambia to complete their education, delay the age of first pregnancy and increase their life skills and money management.
• 200,000 Zambian women and girls have control over their own fertility through a £14.8m family planning initiative.