First Lady champions ‘Stop early marriage’ campaign PDF Print E-mail
First_Lady_ChampionsAs efforts are being put in place to start a strong and effective campaign, on Wednesday the office of the first Lady Sia Nyama Koroma championed the launching of the African Union Campaign to end early Child Marriage with the theme 'end child marriage for sustainable development in Sierra Leone. The launching held at Kingtom Bank Complex, was attended by stakeholders and dignitaries in different spheres of life, including UN Agencies, AU representatives, Chinese envoy, Child Rights Advocates, Women's organizations and it was officially launched by Vice President Victor Bockarie Foh. Girls under the age of 18 years are being deprived of their right to education and a better life due to early marriage and because of the alarming percentage in Sierra Leone stakeholders have committed themselves to champion the campaign and to contribute to the development of young girls in the country.
First Lady Sia Nyama Koroma explained her motives and her reasons for championing the course because according to her, early marriage is detrimental to the development of the girls and the nation as a whole. "Young girls are vulnerable in society, and are faced with lots of challenges which hinders or interfere with their development. It is our duty and responsibilities as senior citizens to ensure our children are safe, provide better education, health and sanitation." She mentioned that young girls are being forced into early marriage that has resulted to ill health with most of them losing their lives to child birth, early pregnancy complications and severe diseases like fistula. Madam Koroma urged all stakeholders involved including community leaders, paramount chiefs, traditional leaders, religious leaders, and women leaders to champion the campaign and be steadfast to ensure girls are safe in society. "We should ensure commitments, that girls are given the opportunity to grow and participate in development" first lady emphasized. The Deputy Minister of Social Welfare, Gender and Children's Affairs (MSWGCA), Neneh Turay, emphasized on the need to hold duty bearers accountable to force them to implement concrete actions noting the challenges of poor implementations and process. She stressed on the conflicting laws in Sierra Leone that are mainly responsible to the continued practice of early marriage because of the consent of age and approval of parents or stakeholders in community stating that traditional norms embedded into society should be changed in order to achieve their aim. The stakeholders of different organizations and NGOs noted the importance of the quest or pursuit to end early marriage pointing out its negative impact in development. Therefore they called on government to put emphasis on massive sensitization across the country.