Press release: Mozambique launches national strategy to end child marriage

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MAPUTO – Girls Not Brides Mozambique welcomes the launch today of Mozambique’s National Strategy to Prevent and Combat Child Marriage. The strategy was spearheaded by the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Affairs in consultation with multiple ministries, international agencies, donor partners, and Girls Not Brides Mozambique.

The strategy outlines contains eight main pillars which are pivotal to ending child marriage in Mozambique, including: a communications and social mobilisation campaign; improving girls’ access to education, as well as sexual and reproductive health services, family planning, and sex education; support for married girls; and reform of the legal framework.

The coming months will be critical to ensuring the strategy becomes more than just another impressive document languishing on the shelves” said Albino Francisco from Girls Not Brides Mozambique.

In outlining what happens next, Mr Francisco continued:

While firm action is needed from all ministries – in particular the ministries of Gender, Education, Health and Justice – the central Government will not be able to implement the strategy alone. Success will require a strong coordinated action by everyone involved in compiling the strategy – Government, International Agencies, Donor Partners and Civil Society. Those on the frontlines – district and provincial government officials, media, parents, teachers, leaders, girls themselves and community, religious and traditional leaders – must also be closely engaged as they have a central role in changing attitudes to child marriage and getting girls the services they need.”

Although there have been slight decreases in child marriage rates in Mozambique, population growth has meant that the actual number of married girls has increased. Mozambique has the tenth highest rate of child marriage in the world. Nearly one in two girls in Mozambique are married before their 18th birthday, and 14 percent are married by the age of 15, despite the legal age of marriage being 18.

The reasons for why child marriage is prevalent varies across the country, but the common contributing factors are lack of access to education and poverty, as well as traditional practices, particularly in rural areas. In the north, traditional practices aimed at children from 10 to 13 years contribute to child marriage by emphasising the subordination of a girl to her husband and elders, and signifies a girl moving into adulthood and towards marriage. In the south of the country, adolescent pregnancy remains one of the leading causes of child marriage.

The consequences for girls are long lasting and often devastating. Child brides in Mozambique face a wide range of social and health consequences including higher rates of maternal mortality, complications during pregnancy and childbirth, and a higher risk of HIV infection.

About Girls Not Brides Mozambique

Girls Not Brides Mozambique is a national partnership made up of civil society organisations working in Mozambique committed to ending child marriage and enabling girls to fulfil their potential. The partnership shares the conviction that every girl has the right to lead the life that she chooses and that, by ending child marriage, we can achieve a safer, healthier and more prosperous future for all.

Find out more about Girls Not Brides at www.GirlsNotBrides.org

Follow Girls Not Brides on Twitter @GirlsNotBrides

Interviews are available with Terezinha da Silva and Persilia Muianga of Girls Not Brides Mozambique.

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