NOMSA NKANA, Lusaka
THE socioeconomic hardships caused by the novel coronavirus may force parents and guardians in many economically distressed countries to marry off their girls as a response and coping strategy to the pandemic, President Edgar Lungu says.
He has, therefore, called on world leaders to develop measures that would eliminate harmful practices such as child early and forced marriages by 2030.
President Lungu told the United Nations (UN) that Covid-19 has the potential to increase the rates of child marriage in many countries.
He said this during a high-level event on the sidelines of the 75th UN General Assembly on Early and Forced Child Marriages side- event.
Zambia and Canada are the co-hosts of the annual side event on early child and forced marriages.
The President delivered his virtual message in a statement read on his behalf by Minister of Gender Elizabeth Phiri.
“Child marriage has continued to deny girls their basic fundamental rights and chances to be children and to also be able to choose when and whom to marry, including living a life free of violence and sexual abuse,” Mr Lungu said.
He said early and forced child marriage has largely robbed the girl child her right and opportunity to go to school to advance her career and vocational training.
The head of State said the vice ultimately denies the girl child the opportunity to make meaningful contributions to the development of their communities and society.
He said child marriage has detrimental effects on the mental and physical well-being of girls, adding that government, therefore, continues to implement programmes aimed at increasing girls’ access to education.
President Lungu told member states that Government, with support from its partners, is providing children with school lessons through online platforms, television channels and radio programmes to address the disruptions of the education system created by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“With support from partners on ending child marriage, Zambia has developed a national plan of action aimed at accelerating efforts to end child marriage by 2030,” President Lungu said.
NOMSA NKANA, Lusaka