First Quantum Minerals (FQM) has rolled out the “Books Before Boys” project, an initiative aimed at empowering girls through education and shunning vices that lead to early marriages.

And Solwezi District Commissioner Rosemary Kamalonga says government is delighted with FQM’s initiative, which she notes will help shape and improve the lives of girls in the area.

Speaking when she officially launched the Books Before Boys (BBB) Campaign in Solwezi, Wednesday, Kamalonga hailed the launch of the BBB project, which she described as important to enhancing girls’ education in the area.

“As government, we are very happy to be part of the Books Before Boys launch because we know that this is another great effort being put in place to ensure that a good number of our children stay in school, concentrate and prioritize their education to avoid relationships that cause them to fall pregnant early and ultimately get married off,” Kamalonga said.

She also commended FQM for giving the girls exposure, which went a long way in helping them set their career goals and reduce poverty.

And FQM health programmes and projects advisor Gertrude Musunka said the objective of the BBB campaign was to enhance girl-child empowerment and provide a uniform platform through which all schools would have similar tools for programme implementation.

Musunka explained that the campaign was launched to establish clubs in schools to help sensitize girls about their sexual reproductive health rights all-year round, give them access to correct information and propose activities that will preoccupy the girls, and keep them away from sexual relationships.

“The Books Before Boys campaign is also meant to augment the FQM theory of change for girl-child empowerment through education that would help answer the question on what it takes for the girl-child to be empowered,” explained Musunka.

At the same ceremony, FQM unveiled a book titled “Tukiya: The Runaway Teenage Wife”, written by celebrated Zambian journalist and author David Kashiki, which is about fighting early, teenage and forced marriages.

A total of 200 copies were given to the participating schools through the Solwezi District Education Board Secretary’s (DEBs’) office.

Meanwhile, chief Kapijimpanga of Solwezi District thanked government for creating an enabling environment that made FQM and other investors to do business freely, leading them to plough back to the communities of their operation.

“Our commitment is to work with the government of the day and stakeholders, such as FQM, at every level of society for the advancement of our people,” said chief Kapijimpanga.

The chief announced that the royal establishment was looking forward to the construction of a university in the area, and had earmarked 500 hectares for the purpose.

– Courtesy of SUMA SYSTEMS.