child marriages
The United States government has given $1 million in the USAID agreement with the Zambian Centre for Communications Programs to support the end of child marriages.

Susan Brems, USAID Zambia Mission director, stated that the U.S. is proud to be working on the global movement to end child marriages.

Brems stated that while USAID cannot guarantee everything that people may like, they can try to improve the chance that each person can work to realize their potential.

“We can do this by lowering infant and young child mortality so that children have a chance at life. We can do this by extending coverage of education, as Zambia so prominently has so that children have a path to understand the world around them and make their way in it. We can also do this by enhancing food security so that adequately nourished young people can take full advantage of school and work opportunities,” she said.

Brems also stated that child marriages deprive children of an important part of their development process. She added that youths who are married off early are faced immediately with the tasks of caring for children and setting up households.

According to the United Nations Population Fund, around 7.3 million teenage girls become pregnant every year, two million of whom are 14 or younger. About 70,000 youth in developing countries die each year from problems during childbirth.

The World Health Organization states that stillbirths and child deaths are 50 percent more likely among children of young mothers than among mothers in their twenties.

But numbers do not tell the whole story.

If Pakistani woman Rashda Naureen could go back in time, she would never married at the age of 16. With merely a third-grade education, Naureen married at 16 and became a mother at 17.

“Looking back, I know I was not ready for marriage,” she stated. “How could I have been, being merely a child myself?”

– Colleen Moore

Sources: Inter Press Service
Photo: Veooz