National Advocacy and Communication Strategy on Ending Child Marriage in Zambia (2018-2021)

Movers and Models for Change on Ending Child Marriage in Zambia

Group of young children in Zambia in front of washing line
UNICEF Zambia/2016/Schermbrucker


The Advocacy and Communication Strategy 2018 – 2021 has been developed to enhance implementation of the National Strategy on Ending Child Marriage 2016 – 2021. The Strategy has been developed under the guidance of Rain Barrel Communications with support from Government institutions, public and private media organizations, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and Cooperating Partners.

The Ministry of Gender would like to express gratitude to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and all Cooperating Partners on the campaign to end child marriage for the financial and technical support rendered during the development of this Communication Strategy.

A positive political and social environment for ending child marriage is evident among the Zambian government, traditional authorities, religious communities, civil society organizations, communities and the media. Like several of its neighbours, the country is implementing a national strategy to reduce and eventually eliminate child marriage. The ongoing Ending Child Marriage campaign has engaged traditional leaders in creating better understanding of the negative effects of child marriage and has served as a springboard for the creation of a national strategy on ending child marriage.

In 2016, Zambia's Ministry of Gender led a Government consortium together with the coalition of CSOs in developing and launching the National Strategy on Ending Child Marriage in Zambia for the period 2016 – 2021, for which a National Plan of Action was launched in December 2017. The goal of the National Strategy is to reduce child marriage by 40 per cent by 2021 (UNICEF Zambia, 2015), and this goal is supported by five objectives:

1. To strengthen multi-sectoral responses to reduce children's vulnerability to marriage;

2. To facilitate the development and review of policies and legislation to ensure a consistent

approach to protecting child rights and promoting their well-being;

3. To facilitate positive change in prevailing attitudes, behaviours, beliefs and practices that

contribute to the practice of child marriage;

4. To facilitate the provision of child sensitive social services in order to reduce children's

vulnerability to marriage; and

5. To effectively mobilize financial resources in order to facilitate the implementation of programmes aimed at reducing children' vulnerability to marriage.

This advocacy and communication strategy on ending child marriage is designed to address Objective 3 of the National Strategy. While the overall aim is to improve knowledge and facilitate positive change in prevailing, attitudes, beliefs and practices of parents, children, communities and other stakeholders toward reducing the incidence of child marriage, it will also address strengthening the capacity of local stakeholders to act as change agents and will fully engage the media in advocacy and communication efforts. The strategy will simultaneously support achievement of objectives 1, 2, 4 and 5 through the use of advocacy and communication approaches.

Children in Zambia enter marriage for numerous reasons, including pressure from poverty, unintended pregnancies, the desire for increased social status, and lack of realistic future options. Reducing child marriage, therefore, must adopt a comprehensive approach that supports individual behaviour change, community mobilization of products and services, and advocacy that unifies statutory and customary law and increases investments in infrastructure such as secondary schools and boarding facilities.

This document presents a multifaceted, multisectoral programme unified under a proposed umbrella concept, for example, “ECM Models” that will create changes to support the achievement of the goal of the 2016 – 2021 National Strategy, thus contributing to the elimination of the practice in 2030. The “ECM Models” programme focuses on six thematic areas that surround ECM:

1. Girls' Education

2. Teen Pregnancy and Adolescent Health

3. Protection of Girls and Boys

4. Poverty Reduction and Socio-Economic Opportunities

5. Civil Registration

6. Empowerment of Girls and their Families

Advocacy and communication activities in each of the thematic areas support ECM by directly influencing behaviour and social change or by promoting alternatives that directly or indirectly can empower girls and boys, their parents, and their communities to delay marriage until after age 18. The activities associated with each thematic area will be delivered through six strategic approaches:

1. Capacity Strengthening, including skill building and training of youth, parents, and community members.

2. Media Engagement, including the development of Edutainment programmes and other interactive programming that can spark communication among stakeholders.

3. Social Mobilization, including identifying and celebrating role models and mobilizers for ending child marriage.

4. Community Engagement, including dialogues with traditional and religious leaders and councils, and participation of young people in community theatre for development programmes, media  development, storytelling, and showcasing their talents in the arts.

5. Advocacy, including national, provincial, district and community activities targeting leaders, organizations, and decision makers.

6. Coordination and Management, including establishing coordinating mechanisms for the implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of advocacy and communication activities.

The proposed “ECM Models” programme described in this document provides the Ministry of Gender and the Technical Working Group with a comprehensive approach to facilitating positive change in prevailing attitudes, behaviours, beliefs and practices that contribute to the practice of child marriage. Through its activities, it will support all five of the objectives in the National Strategy on Ending Child Marriage.

Strategy cover, with photo of young boys in Zambia
Commissioned by the Ministry of Gender
Publication date

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