October 28, 2020
By Christine Hills
According to traditional Zambian law, girls can be married at puberty and sexual relations or marriage before age 16 is not uncommon. Almost one third of Zambian girls are married before 18 and 6% are married before their 15th birthday. Poverty plays a large role, particularly in rural areas. Parents take their daughters out of school and offer them in marriage to older men in exchange for the payment of lobola, a bride dowry.
PWRDF has partnered with the Zambian Anglican Council Outreach Program (ZACOP), the development arm of the Zambian Anglican Church working in the five dioceses of Zambia. Early child development, gender justice and gender integration are a few of the core programs ZACOP implements.
This new project will support ending child marriages by raising awareness of children’s rights, sexual and reproductive health and rights. When these rights are abused, young people – especially girls – can become vulnerable to gender-based violence, pregnancy, sexually-transmitted infections, child marriages and inter-generational poverty.
The program will encourage behavioural change among adolescents through gender- and child-sensitive training. It will create safe spaces in schools, churches and communities for young people to have access to remedial services and activities, such as sports and drama.
This project will take place over three years with a budget of $155,000. Some key activities include:
- Training church and local leaders, parents, community workers, peer educators and girls and boys on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, gender-based violence, early child marriage and children’s rights;
- Organizing meetings with church and local leaders, community organizations, police, legal services, health providers and teachers to discuss child marriage and children’s rights;
- Developing radio programs on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, gender-based violence, early child marriage and children’s rights and radio listening groups for girls and boys;
- Providing educational materials to girls and boys who want to return to school after entering into child marriages;
- Training vulnerable youth and their parents in Saving With Education (SWE) skills;
- Providing small grants to youth to establish small businesses;
- Training youth in entrepreneurship and facilitation skills.
PWRDF is pleased to enhance ZACOP’s experience in implementing gender-based violence programs. This new partnership with PWRDF will allow ZACOP to expand their programming and do even more to end the practice of early marriage.