- SADC PF Vice President, Hon M. Joanne Sabrina Tour
- Chairpersons of SADC PF Standing Committees and the RWPC
- SADC PF Treasurer, Hon. Mduduzi Matsebula
- Honourable Members of the SADC Parliamentary Forum
- Her Excellency Ms Boemo Sekgoma, SADC PF Secretary General
- Chinwe Ogbonna, the Deputy Regional Director of UNFPA East and Southern Africa Regional Office, representing the UNFPA Regional Director for UFPA East and Southern Regional Office
- Ms Veronica Perzanowska, an Analyst with the Sida SRHR team based in Pretoria
- Ms Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda, former Africa Union Goodwill Ambassador for Ending Child Marriage
- Youth Representatives
- SADC PF Secretariat Staff and Staff of SADC National Parliaments
- Officials from UNFPA and Equality Now
- SADC Citizens and Partners joining us online
- Distinguished participants
Please allow me to begin my remarks by thanking most sincerely Her Excellency the Secretary General Madam Boemo, for drawing the linkages for us as partners and the forum thereby allowing us to begin this critical conversation with this auspicious forum on accelerating the domestication of the SADCC model laws on Child marriage and Gender-based violence
Honorable members, you see a recent global report by the UN found that Child marriage is thankfully declining- from 23% to 19%. That is the good news.
The bad news however is that this rate is still not fast enough and means we- both globally and regionally will not meet the Sustainable Development Goal of eliminating child marriage by 2030 but instead, we will end Child marriage in possibly 300 years,
Indeed 12 million girls under 18 are still getting married each year as children which is quite alarming.
Honorable members, you have apprehended this danger already and have sought to address it within your mandate through the SADCC model law and we laud you for it- As an organization – Equality Now in collaboration with UNFPA we see our role this morning therefore as being to stand on this legal instrument (model law) and to support this forum fulfill its mandate through accelerating the UPTAKE and use of the model law across the region resulting in four key gains:
- Firstly revision and harmonization of national laws removing ambiguities and ensuring holistic protection of young women and girls from child marriages
- Secondly setting the minimum age of marriage in national laws-which age varies from country to country in the region at the moment and is often conflated with age of majority or consent(Consent to sexual encounters).
- Thirdly and alluded to by Madam Boemo supporting community engagement for norms change and to set positive cultural context-context that is non-discriminatory and protects our rights even as it esteems culture.
- Fourthly through supporting the generation of information through monitoring of the progress of the adoption of the model law nationally and through its implementation guided by this august forum through its oversight and accountability mandate.
Honorable members, we indeed look to you to guide us in this noble cause and are privileged, therefore to be part of today’s engagement as well as the broader work within your mandate to end child marriages in the SADCC region and indeed in Africa