President Edgar Lungu says Zambia has managed to reduce early child marriage cases from 60 per cent in 2013 to 45 per cent this year due to government’s commitment to the fight.

President Lungu said this when he met with African Union (AU) Commissioner for Social Affairs Amira El Fadil who briefed him on progress made by AU member states regarding the campaign to end Child Marriage on the African continent.

El Fadil paid a courtesy call on President Lungu in his capacity as the Continental Champion against the scourge, and the briefing was intended to prepare him for a report to the forthcoming African Union Summit scheduled for Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from 3rd to 4th July, 2017.

President Lungu bemoaned the negative impact of child marriage on children whose qualitative lives are curtailed before they acquired an education which would have gone a long way in realising their full potential.

He acknowledged that Zambia, like other African countries, was adversely affected by the negative repercussions of child marriage and that if implications of this challenge were not addressed, it would undermine the development of Zambia and the entire African continent in sectors such as health, education, gender equality and economic empowerment.

“In view of this realisation, Zambia decided to launch its campaign against child marriage. Zambia has embarked upon a multi-sectoral approach where line ministries have formed a consortium to draw synergies and linkages to ensure that all aspects of the development of the girl-child and also the vulnerable boys are addressed in a comprehensive manner. The civil society has also come on board, by forming a network to campaign against child marriages,” President Lungu said, according to a statement issued by his press aide Amos Chanda yesterday.

President Lungu revealed during the meeting that Zambia had recorded a reduction in early child marriage cases from 60 percent in 2013 to 45 percent in 2017 and attributed this to the multisectoral approach by Government to fight the practice, including political will from the Presidency and the First Lady’s office.

During the meeting the Head of State also presented the National Strategy, the National Plan of Action and other documents that the country had been using in the campaign on ending child marriage in Zambia.

The meeting at State House was also attended by Zambia’s Gender Minister Victoria Kalima and the Ministry’s Permanent Secretary Edwidge Mutale.

During the African Union Heads of State and Government Summit which took place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in January this year, the President championed a high level platform to assess the state of the implementation of the Common African Position on Ending Child Marriage, particularly in countries where the AU campaign had been launched nationally.

The meeting also identified concrete steps towards the establishment of a High Level Monitoring and Follow up Panel/Forum for the Implementation of the Common African Position.

The African Common Position on Ending Child Marriage was adopted by Heads of State and Government who included the President at the mid-year Assembly in June 2015. This adoption followed the continental AU campaign to End Child Marriage which was launched by the Commission of the African Union in May 2014.

Arising from this Assembly, the Commission was requested to develop a comprehensive Action Plan for monitoring the Implementation of the African Common Position and report to the Assembly on progress made towards ending child marriage in Africa, biennially.