African Union goodwill ambassador for the campaign to end child marriage, Nyaradzai Gumbonzvanda, who is in Zimbabwe for the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) 34th summit, says regional leaders must discuss and come up with practical solutions to end child marriages in southern Africa.
Gumbonzvanda told journalists in Harare on Thursday that she expects SADC leaders to endorse efforts by the African Union and regional gender and women’s affairs ministers calling for efforts to end child marriage in the region and the continent at large.
Malawi president Peter Mutharika has a regional document, committing himself and other leaders in SADC to the cause.
The ministers, meeting ahead of the weekend summit, also re-affirmed their support towards the United Nations Resolution 58/3 on Women, the Girl Child and HIV and AIDS and the African Union’s call to ensure now new HIV infections are recorded by 2030 and the campaign to end child marriage in Africa.
The African Union Commission in June launched a historic Africa-wide campaign to end child marriage on the continent and announced Gumbonzvanda as their ambassador on the issue.
The campaign focuses on policy action and raising continental awareness. Member states would be expected to follow and implement legal frameworks that protect children.
Speaking at the launch in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, AUC chairperson Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said child marriage cannot be left unaddressed.
She said the continent cannot afford to let this tradition go unchallenged.
Malawi and Zambia, both in the SADC region, are among the 10 African countries most affected by the child marriage problem.
About 39,000 girls are married off every day while 14 million are in marriages every year worldwide.