By MUKOSELA KASALWE
MEMBERS of Parliament are key in the fight against child and early marriage coupled with government’s renewed political and financial commitment to ending the scourge, First Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Catherine Namugala has observed.
Ms Namugala said it was the duty of every citizen to fight child, early and forced marriages which resulted in health risks as they exposed girls to early childbearing and greater risks of lifelong maternal and infant mortality issues.
She said this in Lusaka yesterday, at the official opening of a two-day seminar under the theme “Parliamentarians take action to tackle child, early and forced marriage”.
The event was organised by the National Assembly through the Zambian Women Parliamentarians Caucus (ZWPC) and the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU).
She noted that according to a Demographic and Health Survey child marriage affected more girls than boys.
“In as much as it is a duty of every Zambian to fight the scourge of child, early and forced marriage, the topic is of particular interest to you as members, who have among other duties, a special mandate to protect children and women,
“I, therefore, believe that this seminar is very timely and will enhance your knowledge on the matter and equip you to be ambassadors of ending child, early and forced marriage,” she said.
Ms Namugala assured MPs of her full support on issues emanating from the seminar which would require follow-up action.
And Higher Education minister Nkandu Luo, who is ZWPC chairperson, said it was gratifying that President Edgar Lungu acknowledged the seriousness of the situation and that was the reason Government has put in place measures to address the challenges associated with child marriages.
Professor Luo said Government had committed itself to the 2016-2030 World Health Organisation Global strategy for women’s, children’s and adolescents’ health.
Meanwhile, Clerk of the National Assembly, Cecelia Mbewe said the seminar was an important opportunity to strengthen the motivation of MPs to tackle child, early and forced marriage in Zambia.