Change is underway in Mozambique. In April, the Government launched its National Strategy to Prevent and Combat Child Marriage. Just last week (3 June), it was one of the countries approving the SADC Model Law on Eradicating Child Marriage and Protecting Children Already in Marriage, which calls for raising the legal age of marriage to 18 and harmonising laws and policies to address child marriage across Southern Africa.
Now that these important steps have been taken, it is crucial that the Government develops an action plan to ensure the successful implementation of the Strategy, in collaboration with civil society organisations, donors, religious and traditional leaders, youth activists, and girls themselves.
Last week, Mabel van Oranje, Board Chair of Girls Not Brides, travelled to Mozambique for four days to meet the various actors who have a role to play in implementing the Strategy and ending child marriage in the country.
Mabel van Oranje met a range of stakeholders including: the Minister of Health; the Minister of Gender, Children and Social Welfare; the Minister of Education; the First Lady of Mozambique; the President and Speaker of Parliament; the Chair of the Gender and Social Issues Commission at the Mozambican Parliament; representatives from UNICEF; UNFPA and the World Bank; representatives from key donor countries; youth activists; girls themselves; and civil society organisations working together to end child marriage under the Coligação para a Eliminação dos Casamentos Prematuros (CECAP) umbrella. She also visited two girls' empowerment projects based in Manhiça and Boene districts.
In the time it has taken to read this article 15 girls under the age of 18 have been married
Each year, 12 million girls are married before the age of 18
That is 23 girls every minute
Nearly 1 every 2 seconds