MWAPE MWENYA, Lusaka
ZAMBIA has been adopted to be the first country to host the African Union Girls Summit which will take place from November 26 to 27, 2015 in Lusaka.
Minister of Gender Nkandu Luo says Government is ready to host the important event under the theme â€˜Eliminating Child Marriagesâ€™.
â€œWe feel very privileged to have been given this chance; the problem of child marriages in the African continent is very serious. For Zambia, the prevalence rate stands at 46 percent,â€ Prof Luo said.
She was speaking at a press briefing to announce the dates and programme for the forthcoming summit and to introduce a delegation of African Union members who are in Zambia to prepare for the summit.
She said the summit will discuss, among other things, modalities for curbing child marriages and the role of key stakeholders in ending the scourge.
Prof Luo said the summit will also discuss best practices to adopt in an effort to eliminate child marriages.
She said child marriage is a serious development, social and economic issue that requires concerted efforts to curb.
â€œA child is a child and should remain a child. It doesnâ€™t matter whether she has reached puberty or the parents feel she is ready to be married off. As a ministry, we are advocating children to remain in school and not to be married off at a tender age,â€ she said.
Prof Luo said early marriages have for a long time been identified as drivers of sexually transmitted infections, medical conditions such as fistula and high divorce cases.
And a representative of the AU delegation, John Strijdom, said the summit will make the Zambian voice heard in Africa in ending child marriages.
â€œIn June this year, the UN member states and governments adopted the African Common Solution in ending child marriages, which is a very important document and an outflow of several launches of campaigns against child marriages,â€ Dr Strijdom said.
He said said the summit will help create a roadmap and action plan on ending the scourge.
MWAPE MWENYA, Lusaka