The Canadian embassy in Zimbabwe has strengthened efforts to end child marriages that have, for the past several decades, been dominant in many parts of the country and the region.
BY VANESSA GONYE
Poverty and religion have been leading causes of underage marriages, which usually have a bad ending or continuous suffering of the victim.
Speaking at the Let Them Bloom campaign held by his embassy recently, Canadian ambassador to Zimbabwe, René Cremonese decried that about 15 million girls were married off every year globally before they turn 18.
“One in three girls in the developing world marries before she turns 18. And one in nine marries before the age of 15. Several countries in Africa have the highest rates of child marriages globally. The good news is that the international momentum to address child, early and forced marriages is building,” he said.
“Through the landmark 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, governments have identified ending child marriage as a global target. This agreement on the issue presents a clear opportunity to advance the issue — including through the development and implementation of national strategies to end child marriage.”
In Zimbabwe, latest statistics show that last year, 34% of girls in a survey group were married off before they reached 18 years of age. Cremonese pledged Canada’s commitment to turning the global goals into real action and put an end to the harmful practice.
“Since October 2013, Canada has invested almost US$70 million in targeted funding to the prevention of child, early and forced marriage, protecting those at risk and supporting already married girls and women. Here in Zimbabwe, Canada has been an active actor promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls,” he said.
Canada has been a major contributor to the over $500 million in development assistance provided to Zimbabwe since independence.