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Accelerating Progress on Ending Child Marriage in Zambia

Child marriage is a harmful practice that perpetuates a vicious cycle of poverty and gender inequality; violates the sexual and reproductive health and rights of young people especially girls; and deprives them of the opportunity to fulfill their potential. 

Zambia has one of the highest rates of child marriage globally with 31.4% of girls being married by their 18th birthday. In order to accelerate national efforts aimed at ending child marriage and safeguarding the health and rights of every adolescent girl, the UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programme on Ending Child Marriage has prioritized investments in girl-centred interventions in some of the most hard to reach rural communities of Katete and Senanga Districts. The interventions are aimed at empowering adolescent girls with life skills education and information on sexual and reproductive health, delivered through mentorship sessions in community and school-based "safe spaces". As a result of the mentorship programme, school administrators in target Districts are consistently reporting a reduction in school dropout rates for adolescent girls.

"Since the programme commenced in selected schools, we have noted significant improvements in terms of keeping girls in school as well as in numbers of child marriage in our communities. Recent data revealed a 26% reduction in child marriage and adolescent pregnancy related school dropouts in the UNFPA-UNICEF Global Programme to End Child Marriage target areas. We have further supported the re-integration of former child-brides back into school.” - highlighted the Deputy Head Teacher at Sibukali Secondary School in Katete.

At Senanga School of the Deaf, the programme has also supported learners with disabilities to access comprehensive sexuality education and life skills training. 

“At the school, most children come from very vulnerable homes and have hearing impairment or physical disabilities. With support from UNFPA and UNICEF we are able to effectively deliver CSE which is adapted to their needs using sign language. During the programme implementation, we have witnessed a reduction in teen pregnancy and early marriage which has further reduced school dropout rates.” – the Deputy Head Teacher at Senanga School of the Deaf noted.

At a District level, the programme has further supported Katete and Senanga to develop and launch District Plans of Action adapted from the National Action Plan for Ending Child Marriage and the Seventh National Development Plan. Both districts have also developed costed, multi-sectoral operational frameworks.