President of the National Chiefs Council, Fortune Charumbira, said child marriages and teenage pregnancies are fuelled by poverty.
Charumbira made the comments while speaking at a regional traditional leaders’ meeting in Harare on Monday.
The meeting, which was attended by chiefs from several African countries, was organised by Plan International and aimed at encouraging chiefs to address and end early child marriages in Africa. Said Charumbira:
It is important that as stakeholders here gathered, we come up with solutions that address related issues such as female genital mutilation, teenage pregnancies and more importantly poverty.
I know there are some who blame culture and tradition when it comes to child marriages, however, we should not ignore the contribution of poverty to this scourge.
Because of poverty, some parents have been marrying off their children at a tender age for the bride price payment.
Sadly, such unions usually result in the disruption of education and increase the girl’s vulnerability to abuse, discrimination and gender-based violence.
First Centre of Excellence on Ending Child Marriages for the Middle East, Eastern and Southern Africa regional programmes manager Lynn Chinene said:
This project has been targeting traditional leaders as they are the custodians of culture and tradition to stop retrogressive social norms that push for child marriages. Children have to be children and not brides at a young age.