By ALICE NACHILEMBE
Ministry of Gender has launched an Action plan on ending child marriage in Senanga.
The 2019-2021 plan goal is aimed at contributing to the targeted 40 percent national reduction in child marriages by 2021.
Minister of Gender Elizabeth Phiri says the Action Plan which has been made possible with support from UNICEF focuses on interventions to eliminate teenage pregnancies and child marriages in the district.
Ms Phiri said the district analysis report indicates that there is an escalating level of teenage pregnancies, it shows that 19 girls in grade six and 16 girls in grade seven got pregnant in 2017.
The Minister said it pains to learn that some girls start sexual relations as young as 12 years due to some traditional ceremonies which expose them to information about sex.
She said factors like poverty, traditional and religious beliefs and limited access to schools especially secondary schools and weakening of community and family support systems have contributed.
Ms Phiri is saddened that despite the main positive interventions Government and cooperating partners are putting in place, Zambia has continued being one of the countries with high rates of child marriage in Eastern and Southern Africa.
She said that irrespective of the high prevalence rates, Zambia has made a lot of progress in the fight against child marriage as in 2015, Zambia co-hosted with the African Union Commission, the first- ever African Girls’ Summit on Ending Child Marriage.