In Lusaka, Zambia the African Union is hosting the‘African Girl’s Summit on ending child marriage in Africa’ from the 26-27th November, 2015. The summit will be a two day high level meeting bringing together high level personalities from Member States- First Ladies, high level UN dignitaries, women and girls, civil society organisations including community and religious leaders and other stakeholders with the following objectives:-
- Sharing experiences particularly countries that have already launched the AUC Campaign – good practices and challenges on ending child marriage at country, regional and international levels;
- Secure and/or renew commitments from stakeholders particularly governments to invest more in order to accelerate an end to child marriage;
- Interactive discussions of successes and challenges from community leaders, traditional, religious leaders, girls affected by child marriage and youth advocating against child marriage.
The World YWCA is participating with a delegation from eight countries – Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe with 26 participants including Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda, World YWCA General Secretary and African Union Goodwill Ambassador for Ending Child Marriage. The organisation is organising a one day pre-summit with an additional 25 young women from the YWCA of Zambia whom will join the World YWCA delegation.
The summit builds on the African Union’s significant strides in addressing child marriage such as the launch of the Campaign to End Child Marriage in Africa, as a practical response to facts on the ground relating to the situation of girls. It compliments and draws on the years of experience of campaigning work around harmful practices such as Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and the extensive work in recent years on the AU Campaign for Accelerated Reduction of Maternal Mortality (CARMMA).This has led to the adoption of a Common African Position on the African Union campaign to end child marriage which was adopted in June, 2014 Summit in Johannesburg, South Africa by the heads of states and governments. This creates a framework for uniform implementation across the continent and requiring promulgation of appropriate legislation and policies to prevent child marriage. Furthermore, it also empowers the already married girls through access to education, health, life skills, justice and other services they may require. State parties will be held accountable to the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the child to report on the implementation of activities towards ending child marriage.
The African Union Campaign is in alignment with the global focus on ending child, early forced marriage. The Sustainable Development Goals unanimously adopted at the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly includes a goal to end child, early and forced marriage.
The World YWCA has been actively advocating at many regional and national events to put an end to child, early and forced marriage, including advocacy with partners such as Girls Not Brides, Plan International, World Vision, Every Child and UN Women. The World YWCA participated in the 2014 Girls summit held in London which ended with concrete commitments in the charter adopted to ensure that no one should be forced into marriage or made to marry whilst still a child.
During the summit the World YWCA will host side events and parallel sessions working collaboratively with partners who include Girls Not Brides, World Vision, Ford Foundation, and Plan International amongst others. The World YWCA engagement at the Girls Summit is seeking to ensure adoption of a strong African Union action plan on ending child marriage which includes civil societies in the implementation of a tailored approach to reach married girls.