Dear Zontians and friends,
In honor of its Centennial Anniversary, Zonta started a major project: We’ve become the first private sector donor to UNICEF and UNFPA’s Global Programme to End Child Marriage. Child marriage is not only a severe violation of human rights, it also inhibits social and economic change in countries that could see a more favorable and sustainable development if girls received a good education before becoming mothers.
Our engagement extends beyond funding. Around the world, Zonta members are raising awareness for early marriage and advocating to end this crime. A seminar we held in Vienna is only one example of these efforts. Read below about the speeches and interventions and also about my recent visit to a village in Zambia.
Thank you very much for your great support of this project as well as all the other efforts in this important biennium. And, many thanks for your generous donations.
Dr. Susanne von Bassewitz, President
Field Notes – Combating Child Marriage in Zambia
The field visit started with meeting Chieftainess Kawaza, an impressive lady and the only female chief among altogether three in Katete District (Eastern Province, Zambia). She presented a strategic plan that supports the goal to end child marriage and is carried out in all villages of her chiefdom. This commitment is crucial to the project’s success since Chieftainess Kawaza’s words carry more weight than that of government officials.
I also sat with village headmen and one headwoman and later also with Alangizi women. These are female initiators and very influential when it comes to shaping attitudes of girls vis à vis boys and potential partners. The Alangizi play a key role in preventing early marriages.
Most often, an early pregnancy leads to marriage. Therefore, education on methods of contraception is paramount and is being provided to girls and boys in special classes that also tackle various other related topics. Menstrual health management is one them. It is complemented by a project to produce sanitary napkins that both girls and boys participate in.
Life skills such as setting goals for the future and planning how to save money are taught in safe spaces.
All these efforts are targeted to bring about cultural change and to address the benefits of delaying pregnancies and marriage.