Empowering Zambian girls through development “of all, for all”

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Chiyana Ndonji, Blog4Dev Zambia Winner Chiyana Ndonji, Blog4Dev Zambia Winner

The Zambian culture still places significance on marriage, especially for a woman. Many say a woman ceases to be one if she does not have the company of one she would refer to as a husband.

In view of such stereotypes, the fate of girls is often jeopardized and condemned to early marriages, especially in the rural areas. Empirical evidence suggests that early marriages are predominantly caused by high poverty levels at household levels. Our strong African culture, which places emphasis on the woman’s role being one of child bearing, also plays a major role in early marriages as well as lack of quality education, especially for women who eventually become mothers.  

The Zambian culture in itself has much good in it, however, I believe the timings of events demanded by culture need to be changed. A big question still remains; how do we stop early marriages? This blog recommends the below in stopping early marriages:  

  • Involving opinion leaders to influence mind-sets of society: Opinion leaders would include chiefs, village headmen, government representatives e.g. teachers, nurses, doctors etc. who are held in high regard by society. These leaders would set the pace in implementing already established policy such as the National Child Policy.  
  • Providing mentorship programs: Early marriages are prominent among the rural population as opposed to urban population which is well aware of the benefits of education and implications of pregnancy’s at a young age. Notably, girls are not always forced into marriages and in some cases they pioneer for their own marriages. It is undeniable that a girl child who has been exposed to quality education and female role models who have reached great height is capable of doing much more than society believes of them  
  • Enhance information systems: Ensuring every child born is issued a birth certificate to validate their age. In Zambia, some girls have been married off and parents claimed that their child is older than the restrictive age. Enhancing digitization of storage is key to ensure birth certificates are retrieved in future  
  • Provide public education to parents and the girl child: This includes making known the evils of early pregnancies and the effects of an uneducated woman population on the economy. Educating parents on laws regarding early marriages, and above all learning from both the girl child and her parent’s factors influencing their decisions to marry early, and putting mitigants in place.  
  • Economic strengthening of the household: Poverty continues to be the leading factor in the push for early marriages. Implementing deliberate policy and programs, which seek to empower households, can influence decisions families make, especially those pertaining to educating the girl child. Key in poverty reduction is educating households on financial management.  

In conclusion, we need to go back to our initial Ubuntu culture, the culture that sought the development of all and for all. Self-leadership at individual levels influenced by opinion leaders is key to achieve a society in which a girl is seen as more than a source of income. 



Chiyana Ndonji

Blog4Dev Zambia winner

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