July 31 2015 was a noteworthy day for FAWEZI as our members were amongst the thousands of women and school children who gathered at the Harare International Conference Centre for the launch of the African Union Campaign on Ending Child Marriages.
The campaign held under the theme: ‘We Are Girls Not Brides’ was launched in union with the United Nations, the Government of Zimbabwe and the African Union Commission for Social affairs which was represented by the Commissioner Dr Mustafa Sadiki Kaloko.
Various speakers present emphasized the need to empower children with education before forcing them into early marriage which has been labeled ‘the new evil in town.’
Health and Child Care Minister Dr David Parirenyatwa urged men to desist from having sex with young girls stating that their bodies are undeveloped and they are therefore prone to contracting STIs, having complications during pregnancy and child bearing resulting in most of them undergoing caesarian sections.
The Minister of Education Lazarus Dokora also spoke about gender sensitive pedagogy, diversified curriculum, bonding within families and involvement of families in schools as means of curbing the rate of early child marriages.
He went on to say his ministry is trying by all means to ensure equal access to education for both girls and boys for basic education.
“Girls impregnated whilst still at school should be able to go back to school through another platform,” he said.
It was also fulfilling to hear Child parliamentarian Fungai Makuyana present a petition to Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development Minister Nyasha Chikwinya appealing to government to ensure access to education for girls and to make sure that the law prevents the marriages of children below18 years.
Speaking on behalf of traditional leaders, Chiefs Council president Chief Fortune Charumbira condemned child marriages saying those who are engaging in child marriages are merely violating the law in the name of tradition.
The event was graced by the first lady Dr Grace Mugabe and the prevailing message was -give them books and not husbands/wives.