Zim activist fights child marriage

Zimbabwean-born prominent human rights defender, Nyaradzai Gumbonzvanda, was recently appointed a member of the Advisory Committee of Girls Not Brides.

Girls Not Brides is a new global partnership to end the harmful traditional practice of child marriage, so that girls can fulfill their potential. Created by The Elders, it brings together organisations that work to tackle child marriage at the grassroots, national and global levels around the world.

“As a human rights defender, as a mother and a lawyer, being a member of the Advisory Committee for Girls Not Brides is an honour and an opportunity. It is a role that provides me with an opportunity to translate the usual policy commitments and rhetoric to tangible and doable actions for our girls in communities. In my daily work, as the General Secretary of the World Young Women’s Christian Association, I encounter women who have education and life opportunities, live with anger and frustration, risked their health and well being due to early marriage,” Gumbonzvanda told The Zimbabwean in an interview from Switzerland.

She bemoaned the prevalence of child marriages despite it being outlawed in many countries. Every year, an estimated 10 million girls worldwide are married before they turn 18

According to Girls Not Brides, child marriage almost always cuts girls’ education short, trapping them and their children in poverty. It often leads to early pregnancy and childbirth, putting girls’ lives and health at risk.

This is common in Zimbabwe where 21 percent of children, mostly girls, are married before the age of 18. Gumbonzwanda’s mother, Rozaria, suffered the same fate.

“My mother dropped out of grade three when she was barely 16 years-old because she had to be married to my father. When she passed on, I founded Rozaria Memorial Trust so that we can create opportunities for girls to remain in school, define their future and live with dignity,” she added.

Post published in: Politics

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