Mpupwé community leader committed to prevent Child marriages in Zambézia
I encourage the other leaders of neighboring villages to follow this path and not to perform or participate in unions that involve girls or boys under the age of 18.
I encourage other leaders of neighboring villages to follow this path and not to perform or participate in child marriages. I also encourage young girls to report when any family forces them to make this decision.
Gurué, Zambézia - "There are parents who still resist and use arguments like 'We can't get any other way to overcome poverty but to get our daughters married'. But these arguments do not justify the reason for girls to get married early. In fact, it only brings us more poverty," said 59 years old Pedro Muanacala, a community leader of the Mpupwé Village, Metovola Locality, Gurué district, in the province of Zambézia, who was one of the 510 community leaders who benefited from the training led by the team of the Council of Provincial Representative Services of the State of Zambézia that together with a multisectoral team promoted in 2019 a training whose one of the focuses was the prevention of child marriage.
In the village of Mpupwé, composed of 358 mostly peasant families, the practice of child marriage is still a problem with many known cases such as Isabel (17 years old) who recently had a child resulting from the premature union.
After the training, Pedro Muanacala started to apply what he learned to his community, by sensitizing the families to abandon this practice. Francisco (62 years old) and Rosália (54 years old), Isabel's parents, today are people who actively discourage other families to follow the same path because they saw how it affected their daughter, she married early, had a child early, and her husband ended up abandoning her and her son, fleeing to an unknown place because he could not support the three wives he had.
During the discussion groups with the community, Pedro makes sure to help to spread the word about what the law says on child marriage, how to prevent child marriages, the implications that the practice has for girls, such as dropping out of school, early pregnancies, obstetric fistulas, the birth of underweight babies, and everything that strengthens the cycle of poverty in the community.
"In the past, as a community leader, I was called to witness some of those marriages. But that is in the past now, and it happened because I had no information that this is not a good practice. It became clear to me during the training and I am applying what I learned. Nowadays, I am the first to report and stop child marriages, and I am a vigilant activist in the community. Everyone knows that they should speak up and denounce", said Pedro Muanacala.
In 2016, UNICEF, together with UNFPA, launched a global programme to tackle child marriage in 12 of the most high-prevalence or high-burden countries: Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Mozambique, Nepal, Niger, Sierra Leone, Uganda, Yemen and Zambia.
The UNFPA-UNICEF Global Programme to Accelerate Action to End Child Marriage promotes the rights of adolescent girls to avert marriage and pregnancy, and enables them to achieve their aspirations through education and alternative pathways. The Global Programme supports households in demonstrating positive attitudes, empowers girls to direct their own futures, and strengthens the services that allow them to do so. It also addresses the underlying conditions that sustain child marriage, advocating for laws and policies that protect girls' rights while highlighting the importance of using robust data to inform such policies.
The Global Programme is generously supported by the Governments of Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands, Norway, the United Kingdom and the European Union, as well as Zonta International.