“Early marriage is a very serious problem in Mozambique,” says Veronica Macamo, Mozambique’s Speaker of the House at the launch of Every Last One (ELO) Project, a child protection campaign to help end violence against children in the country. She further emphasized that, “ELO is a very important project because it will mobilize families, communities and other key actors against the harmful consequences of early marriages of children.”
She also hoped that the campaign would promote the benefits of keeping girls at school so they will grow up as educated women contributing to the development of the country. The project aims to contribute to the efforts to eliminate violence against children and promote birth registration.
Funded by World Vision, ELO intends to strengthen child protection mechanisms and systems, including training of public servants and communities in applying existing legal provisions. It will also enhance psychosocial support to children who went through violent conditions. Working with midwives and community leaders to reformulate initiation rites and the creation of economic opportunities for adolescents through savings groups are also part of the approaches of the project.
World Vision has been working with the Mozambican Parliament through a commission aiming to reinforce child protection in Mozambique. “Our concern is the legal age to marry under the Law Family which states 18 years old but 16 is allowed with parental consent. This exception needs to be changed, ”, says Eleuterio Fenita, World Vision’s Advocacy and Justice for Children Director.
The project launch held recently was attended by the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Action representative, faith communities, representatives of civil society organizations and accredited embassies in Mozambique. In Mozambique, one in two girls marry before the age of 18, ranking the country in the top 10 worst for early marriages in the world.
World Vision efforts to eradicate early marriages in Mozambique include working with matrons and community leaders to reform initiations rites to make them child friendly. Economic empowerment of girls and boys through promotions of savings supervised by adults who later promote small businesses for the young group members is another approach.