SADC Parliamentary Forum

Website URL: http://www.sadcpf.org


AU GWA Report

Dear Colleagues and Distinguished Participants,

It is with undivided pleasure that I join you online in my capacity as Secretary General of the SADC Parliamentary Forum, on this august occasion, to both welcome and launch the report of the African Goodwill Ambassador on Ending Child Marriage.

At the onset, I wish to express solidarity with the African Goodwill Ambassador, Ms Nyaradzai Gumbonzvanda, who has been a beacon of light in the field of eradicating child marriages on the African continent and beyond since her appointment.
Ms Gumbonzvanda is a staunch partner of the SADC Parliamentary Forum and her contributions to the Forum's thematic committees to unpack strategies to eradicate child marriages are highly commendable. In the same vein, I also wish to thank the Rozaria Memorial Trust for contributing to this event which is of paramount important to the ending child marriage discourse.

As you may be aware, the eradication of child marriage in Africa has been a longstanding battle.

For recall, Eastern and Southern Africa is amongst the regions with the highest prevalence of child marriage in the world, with over 30 percent of women aged 20-24 years who were first married or in a union under the age of 18, whilst the global average stands at around 19%.

Indeed, the Forum and other partners including the AU Goodwill Ambassador have been assiduously working over the past years to end child marriages by upscaling laws, budgets, and oversight activities which could mitigate or altogether eliminate child marriage, whether in urban or rural settings.

Furthermore, the Forum considers that child marriage is interlinked with several contraventions of human rights, including the right to physical integrity, the right to health, the right to education as well as the right to be free from any torture or inhuman and degrading treatment.

At the end of the day, child marriage is a practice which goes against contemporary societal norms and principles and it is a repressive practice that disproportionately affects young girls. In addition, child marriage leads to other pernicious issues such as unintended or forced pregnancies, unsafe abortion, school dropouts, early and unprepared motherhood, to cite but a few repercussions.

As well highlighted in the Report, child marriage is an issue which cannot be looked at in isolation, but must be considered in a comprehensive manner, with the dire consequences of child marriage always going beyond the scope of mere matrimonial links.

In Southern Africa, the Forum notes the progress made in Zimbabwe with the passing of the Marriage Act, and in Mauritius with the enactment and proclamation of the Children's Act, the latter being in operative force since January 2022. Both progressive legislations prohibit child marriages and ensure that the legal age for marriage is fixed at 18, which also coincides with the age of adulthood. The penalty for not complying with such legal provisions is an offence which is of criminal nature. Yet, while progress has been made in certain areas in Africa regarding laws to prohibit child marriage, there is room for improvement and a lot remains to be done, as highlighted in the Report.

The Report also addresses the strategies to end child marriage and challenges encountered. Whilst I express solidarity to the findings of the Report, I wish to reiterate the importance of addressing promptly legal and policy frameworks to end child marriage.

An observation made at the Forum is that with the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent inflationary rise in the cost of living, there were instances where Governments could not prioritise issues such as gender inequality and child marriage, even if those issues were equally important to preserve the social fabric.

There is thus a need for reprioritization of agendas and the Report launched today will be an enormous value addition to revive the momentum in that direction.

In this juncture, I wish to also encourage participants and stakeholders present to continue collaborating with the Forum in our initiatives to domesticate the SADC Model Law on Child Marriage which was adopted by the Plenary Assembly of the Forum in 2016. To date, the Model Law is in process of domestication and it has served as guiding benchmark to prohibit child marriages in several SADC countries already.

The Model Law clearly calls for the eradication of child marriage and child betrothals and the protection of children already in marriage. Under the Model Law, Member States are to fix the legal age of marriage at 18 years old, whether civil or religious marriages, and to ensure that there is a free and informed consent at the time of marriage.

The Model Law on Child Marriage also attempts to plug in other loopholes which relate to the rights of the child such as the right to education and to equal protection under the law, and in this respect has benchmarked on existing regional instruments such as the African Charter on the Rights of the Child.

Furthermore, the Model Law also provides for the creation of special budgetary provisions to combat child marriage, including an anti-child marriage fund which authorities can tap into to sponsor regular sensitisation campaigns in view of ending child marriages.

As we gather here today, the SADC Model Law on Child Marriage is still an effective tool for domestication of legal and administrative norms to eradicate child marriage, and has proved its influence to accelerate domestication endeavours on several occasions.

At the Forum, we recommend that the Model Law should be domesticated in conjunction with the wise guidance and recommendations of our like-minded partners, including those contained in the report of the African Goodwill Ambassador.

I wish to end by stating that the Report is a live document which should be used consistently for policy engagements. In this regard, I invite partners to join the public hearings that are scheduled from the 25th to the 29th of November, 2022 virtually, to make representations before your regional MP's, It is understood that elected representatives must continually interact with their constituents over the elected period, failing which there will be an asymmetry between citizen's wishes and parliamentary action. Email for submission is , refer to attached programme.

Let us continue actively engaging with MPs through the Forum and with national Parliaments so that the findings of the Report are not put to rest, but are made actionable and are promptly implemented.

Parliaments are agents of change, and citizens elect their representatives to support the change that they want to see. Regular feedback from the citizenry on the changes they want to see to eradicate child marriage is thus important and in line with the principles of participatory democracy.

With these words, I thank you all for your kind attention.

Thank you.


Ms B.Sekgoma,


31st October 2022








21 Nov

Arrival of SADC PF Secretariat


All day


22 Nov

Arrival of Clerks/Secretaries General of Parliaments

All day


23 Nov


Meeting of Clerks/Secretaries General


09:00 - 17:00


24 Nov


Meeting of Clerks/Secretaries General (Continues)


Arrival of Members of GEWAYD, HSDSP and DGHR Standing Committees

09:00 - 17:00


25 Nov

· Statutory Meeting of the Standing Committee on Gender Equality, Women Advancement and Youth Development (GEWAYD)

· Statutory Meeting of the Standing Committee on Human and Social Development & Special Programmes (HSDSP)

· Statutory Meeting of the Standing Committee on Democratisation, Governance and Human Rights (DGHR)

  • Arrival of Members of FANR and TIFI Standing Committees


  • Arrival of all other Committee Members


09:00 - 17:00


26 Nov

· Statutory Meeting of the Standing Committee on Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources (FANR)

· Statutory Meeting of the Standing Committee on Trade, Industry, Finance and Investment (TIFI)

09:00 - 17:00


27 Nov


· Statutory Meeting of the Regional Parliamentary Model Laws Oversight Committee (RPMLOC)


09:00 - 17:00


28 Nov

· Statutory Meeting of the Regional Women's Parliamentary Caucus (RWPC)

09:00 - 17:00

Tuesday 29th Nov

· Joint Meeting of all Standing Committees and RWPC


09:00- 17:00

Dear Colleagues/partners,

It is with immense pleasure that I release this statement to the Forum’s distinguished Member Parliaments and partners in view of celebrating the International Day of Girl Child on this 11th October 2022.  


A call has been made for all hands on deck to end Gender Based Violence (GBV), which has been described as is an endemic, multi-dimensional phenomenon with devastating effects on women, men, boys and girls in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region.

Ms Habiba Roswana Osman, the Chief Executive Officer of the Malawi Human Rights Commission (HRC) made the call when she delivered a keynote address at a consultative meeting convened by the SADC Parliamentary Forum (SADC PF). The virtual meeting sought to allow Human Rights Commissioners and Ombudspersons to consider a draft of a SADC Model Law on GBV being developed by the Forum in collaboration with other partners.

She said GBV continued to pose a threat to human security, peace and development as well as the attainment of national, regional and international development blueprints. She said GBV also results in drastic socio-economic consequences.

“It remains the most severe human rights violation in southern Africa with one in two women having experienced GBV at some point in their lives globally,” she said.

She noted that in the SADC region, some countries had higher instances of GBV than others and noted that COVID-19 had exacerbated the structural discrimination and inequalities faced by women and girls.

She said that there had been reports, also, of marital rape in some countries, while GBV had cost the government of South Africa at least 1.7 billion Rands.

“Globally, data continues to show that GBV remains a serious and pervasive problem across all sectors,” she said.

Stressing that no sector was immune to GBV, Ms Osman said the scourge was negatively affecting the Gross Domestic Product of some countries and damaging health, lives, financial independence, productivity and effectiveness.

She noted that SADC had adopted various frameworks to combat GBV in a coordinated manner. In this regard, she cited the Revised Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (2015-2020) and expressed optimism that the SADC Model Law on GBV would guide Member States in the domestication, ratification and implementation of relevant international and regional guidelines and obligations that inform GBV prevention and responses.

She encouraged all stakeholders to aggressively promote the Model Law on GBV to support human rights for all and to ensure that no one was left behind.

Speaking at the same occasion, popular Judge, the Honorable Professor Oagile Key Dingake, stressed that GBV denies people their fundamental rights.

“When we talk about rights, we are speaking about non-negotiable entitlements which are not dished to us at the mercy of the state. In actual fact, the state as the duty bearer is obliged to ensure that these rights are realised. GBV implicates so many of the different rights contained in our constitutions and laws in SADC countries,” he said.

Justice Dingake presented two related papers. One focused on GBV as a human rights issue, and the other provided an overview of gaps in the GBV legislation within the SADC region.

Said the judge: “The right to life and the right to dignity constitute – in my mind – the foundational basis of all other rights. All other rights must accrue from the foundational rights: the right to life, the right to human dignity, security of the person, autonomy and self-determination. GBV is one of the most prevalent human rights violations in the world. It knows no social or economic barrier. It doesn’t discriminate on the basis of class. It is very prevalent among women and girls.” He expressed concern over the fact that in some parts of the SADC region, culture was used as an excuse or justification to oppress women and girls.

He stressed that certain cultural practices flew in the face of human rights, while certain roles assigned to women and girls restricted their options and curtailed their autonomy. The judge said GBV had many negative ripple effects on survivors. These include physical and psychological injuries.

He explained that while physical injuries were manifest, psychological injuries, which included depression and anxiety, eating disorders, stress and compulsive behaviour, were difficult to identify.

The judge expressed concern, also, over low levels of reporting GBV, as well as successful prosecution of offenders. He nevertheless expressed optimism that continuous education might socialise boys and girls in such a way that they would embrace the values of equality and human rights for a better world

About Us

The Southern African Development Community Parliamentary Forum (SADC PF) was established in 1997 in accordance with Article 9 (2) of the SADC Treaty as an autonomous institution of SADC It is a regional inter-parliamentary body composed of Thirteen (14) parliaments representing over 3500 parliamentarians in the SADC region. Read More

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