By Eric Imbuwa; Edited by Leanna Cappiello
World Vision’s support in areas such as Michila has been helping to eradicate harmful traditional practices like early marriage
Extreme poverty and illiteracy in Zambia have forced young girls into child marriage for many years. Parents are typically major contributors to early marriage practices: they are marrying their daughters off early in exchange for food in attempt to end the struggle of poverty in their homes.
“There are parents who have a tendency of forcing their children to go and find food for the family but in the end the same girls end up falling pregnant and getting married to older men and sometimes to boys of the same age,” said Nelius Phiri, an education officer.
Early marriage cases were increasing at a fast rate, the issue deeply affecting the academic performance of children in schools.
“These early marriages issues have been very serious,” Phiri says, “Pupils are missing classes and their attendance levels have gone down… and it is for this reason that we are working hand in hand with stakeholders like World Vision and traditional leaders so that we can completely bring this vice to an end.”
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World Vision has since helped to prevent early marriages in the district by introducing educational projects that help teach girls, their peers and their families.
“With the help of World Vision, we have come up with clubs in schools that have allowed pupils to sensitize their fellow pupils on the importance of education and to report any cases of early marriages they hear of,” Phiri explains.
With the help of World Vision, early marriages have already decreased in the community. Thanks to the various projects aimed at girls’ education, rates will continue to decrease in other areas, including districts that World Vision has not yet reached.