South Sudan: One People, One Nation

An interesting poem by http://theshoeshinereyes.wordpress.com/. Its message is an African message though it speaks of oneness of South Sudanese. Our African poverty is as a result of Tribalism, corruption and selfishness.

By Deng Mangok Ayuel
We are one nation forever,
In epochs of sadness, we unruffled each other,
In minutes of consternation, we embrace together,
When we shortly fall in politics, we hold each other,
When trepidation strikes, fears, we preserve together,
We are not Dinkas, Nuers and Jurchol – we belong to each other
We are South Sudanese.
——————–
We are one …!
We shall live together as one people,
Call our leaders as leaders, spade a spade
No matter the shame, no matter the darkness,
No matter the fear we live, no matter the failures,
We shall return to our roots, do things right, build togetherness
Pray to God for forgiveness, reconcile immediately and stop killing ourselves,
We are for one objective, one vision for all.
——————–
We are one …!
We fought for our freedom,
And separated from Sudan at referendum.
And we weep, reducing ourselves to doom,
But who to blame, you or cerebral pragmatism?
Everything but the reality, call it mess of realism,
Oh God, oh God, give us peace, free us from tribalism;
……and I am worried of YOU, the leaders, not your realm?
——————–
We are one …!
Patience shall make things right,
And purge political fear under one hat
Let’s respect ourselves, our political height
In order to grow and become a better terrain,
We need to come together as stunning nation,
Put the hate on the ledge to stop the desolation
And the public relation engraves a new assertion
——————–
We are one…!
We are South Sudanese,
No matter who is Mr. Achak,
No matter if he is from Rumbek,
No matter if he is loyal to Dr Machar,
No matter which tribe: Dinka, Acholi, Nuer
He is your brother, from baby nation, South Sudan.
Let’s us fulfill our dreams for freedom, live together as a nation

How I Celebrated the World Orphan Day

Lulu is one orphan who impacted me greatly. Thanks to Anita home for putting a smile on her face. Lulu is one orphan who impacted me greatly. Thanks to Anita home for putting a smile on her face.

Julius Mwangi

The world celebrated the World Orphans Day on 7th May 2014. This day was celebrated bearing in mind the stark reality faced by orphans world over.  We celebrate this day by narrating the story of Lulu.

Lulu is a girl aged 12 who has no mum and no dad. She lost them when she was 4 in 2007 during the Kenyan Post Elections Violence.  And so I decided to listen to her story. Throughout the entire conversation with her, I could not help feeling a heavy lump of sadness in my throat.

The story of Lulu the orphan begins where she suddenly found herself alone after the death of her parents in the most cruel manner.  She only remembers being put into a lorry and taken to an IDP camp. In the IDP camp a kind family took care of her until she was taken by the children department and committed to Anita Children Home in Nairobi.  Several things happened which she has no recollection of. First all  her parents lost their lives. She does not know whether they were buried or not. She only remembers that her parents loved her so much and when she was hurt they would rush to give her attention.

Lulu is at the moment in Standard two.  She is much older than her classmates. This happens to be the fate of most orphans, they pass through many hands before they get stability and are able to join schools. They thus join schools when they are much older than the rest of the other students. After sometimes they become objects of ridicule from their teachers, peers and the public. Homes like Anita among others therefore offer an important service of ensuring that orphans will always be protected and provided with basic necessities.

However, as I continue conversing with Lulu, she shows me her drawings. And she asks me

“Are they beautiful?”

“Yes” I answer. I stare at her drawings which are little sketches of a mother and a dad holding her in the middle. 

“I miss mum and dad” she says. I just look at her again and the lump in my throat swells more. And I am nearly pushed to tears

She leaves me and joins other girls to play. And I am left thanking God for the beautiful solace Anita Home offers to orphans. And I am happy that I remembered to spend my day with an orphan. 

Kibra Celebrates the Street Children Day

Post by Michael Asenga

Find pictures of the day here
The street children day was marked on 12th April 2014 in Kibera bringing various organizations. (Koinonia Community, Amnesty International, Pillars of Kibera, Consolation East Africa, Shofco, De-Paul Home Olympic, faith based organizations representing the various mosques and churches in Kibera) and stakeholders interested on the plight of these children. 17 primary schools of Kibera were part of the celebrations. Tone la Maji and Consolation East Africa (CEA) among the local civil society, faith based organizations, schools and government departments with special respect to the children’s office provided the leadership for these efforts. This event went on concurrently with other activities carried out in different parts of the country in honour of the street children.

The event started with a match at Karanja Road that ended at Ndugu Mdogo home. The guest of honour at the event was the Deputy Count Commissioner for Kibra. The event was graced by various children artistic presentations. The first presentation being a poem that highlighted on the life of street children. It underlined vividly public stigma directed to these children, neglect and the life of fear . The second presentation painted a picture on the lives of orphans, illustrating social alienation that leads them to street life. The children were encouraged to see themselves as not being alone because God is their constant companion and will never leave them uncared for. Various artistes were present, notable among them being the MOG who sang and danced together with the children. The civil society and faith based organizations, used the occasion to lobby with the government for more efforts to empower street and poor families and for better services for the street children not only in Kibra but the entire country.
During the event, a speech was presented on the status of the street children in Kenya. This speech was followed by a presentation of an on-going study on reintegration challenges experienced by young adults once they leave charitable institutions of care (CCIs). The study is conducted by KARDS in association with Koinonia Community, Kenya Society of Care-leavers (KESCA) and Koinonia Beneficiaries Welfare Association (KOBWA).
The study exposes dysfunctional and poverty ridden backgrounds characterizing the street children phenomenon in Kenya. It also explored other childhood experiences such as exposure to violence, rejection at an early age, hunger, malnutrition and disease. These extreme experiences including peer pressure may act as push factors to street life. Appropriate measures are always needed to effect reintegration at an early opportunity. Where this is not possible, the charitable children institutions (CCIs) could come in handy to save children from severe negative consequences of street life. There are however a myriad challenges experienced when the reintegration process is not successful. First the young adults are expected to become instant adults, fending for themselves and assuming adult responsibilities. Secondly the weak family ties by these children exposes them to all manner of possible exploitation including human trafficking. Thirdly, the children may end up becoming “teenage parents”, criminals or commercial sex workers. Lastly, there are always dangers that the young adults may relapse back to the streets. The government could play a role in reintegration through easing the procedure of issuing identity cards for the former street youth and provide opportunities for work integration. The study is ongoing and will probably be finished in August 2014.
This presentation was followed by the launch of an illustrated booklet on the rights of the child. The booklet was distributed to all the children in attendance during the day.
The area Chief then introduced the government officers who had graced the occasion. He explained that the government appreciates civil societies and other stakeholders working to assist the street children of Kibera. He then invited the deputy County commissioner for Kibera who after acknowledging the work done by the civil society in rescuing children responded to the request that had been raised by various stakeholders urging sub-county officers to be considerate when issuing identity cards to street children. Lastly, he expressed concerns about the recent radicalization of youth by some civil societies and urged that children and young people need to be taught how to love their country and become harbingers of peace.

Lastly, all in attendance were asked to visit and support the “street children day” website.

Schools that participated
A. Old Kibera Primary
B. Again Primary school
C. Toi primary school
D.st Juliet Primary school
E.Depaul children center
F.Ibrahim children
G. Utu primary school
H. Little Prince
I .line saba kings
J.Mbagathi Primary

2. Churches and Mosques

3. Human Right activists

organizations
Hamlet international
Children of Kibera
Carroliner for Kibera
Binti Muslims community
Pillars of Kibera
Scout groups
Lift the children Kibera
Young rovers kibera
Guest
Deputy County Commissioner
Other guests
Dco Langatta Mrs Harriet Kiara
Chief Mr
Ass chiefs

Ushirikiano wa Wanakiambiu

Virginia Ngina Kisavi

 

Kiambiu Slum  is located near Moi Air Force Base Eastleigh South location. The place is inhabited by several Kenyan tribes. These tribes are a source of diversity bringing about a mixture of different cultures and values. At times too, spots of tension could be felt amongst them.

Sometimes back 2000 there were strong tribal sentiments among the residents of Kiambiu. These sentiments were especially strong among the Kikuyu who were the land owners and the Luos who were tenants. The people were therefore divided and could not associate positively, work or stay together. It even became difficult for Landlords to rent their houses to members of a tribe they did not have any positive regard towards preferring loosing rental income. This meant that no Kikuyu would rent a Luo his/her house.

After post election violence in 2007, some NGOs started civic education to improve the community trust levels, community members were empowered with skills which could help them come together. Self help groups were hence formed with the aim of promoting healing and generating income through “merry go rounds”. These small acts of healing helped in cementing relationships among different tribes and in time they started relating well with each other.

Ushirikiano wa Wanakiambiu was formed as the aftermath of all the associative and cooperation activities. It included several self help groups who came together with the ideas of forming an umbrella organization in the Kiambiu community. Implementing the idea initially was a challenge as people still mistrusted each other. The mistrust extended to the governance structures of the new collaborative endeavor. During organizational committee elections; every group fronted an official as they felt that if they did not do so, their interests would not be effectively represented. This mistrust was quite a challenge nearly bringing the governance process of the new initiative to a standstill and threatened its existence.

The initiative was able to address the so called teething problems of “mistrust”. It in time developed clear objectives and a set of activities. The group started to clean drainages every Saturday, collecting garbage. At the end of the activity each member to contribute 20 shillings for banking. These activities in the long run cemented the relationship amongst the residents of Kiambiu and they started talking about their common problem. Everyone agreed that there was a great need for a toilet in Kiambiu. Once this need was identified, the next step was to look for a site to put up the toilet. A member from the group decided to sell his plot to enable the toilet project to proceed. Once a site was found members went on with their usual contribution meanwhile officials searched for sponsors to help in the construction of the latrine. They later found a sponsor.

After one and a half month the toilet was complete and ready for use by the Kiambiu residents. This gave Ushirikiano wa Wanakiambiu job opportunities like fetching some water for the construction, , transporting the materials from the security base to the working area, digging of the sewer line to connect the main one and also guarding the building. During the time of use also the youth got employed as toilet attendants.

The new toilet project has changed the condition of Kiambiu which was  uncouth when there was no toilet. You could find flying toilets all over the streets and even along the houses. People never knew the importance of unity and cooperation but for now we have strong groups in Kiambiu. Three other toilets serving the community which are affordable by the residents with adults paying 3/= while children enjoy the services freely. The new toilets created new jobs. Apart from the toilets, members started other activities  which generate money for the group. This has developed Kiambiu as a slum with 220 members hence recruiting many more members every year regardless of ethnic groups. They get dividends every year and monthly allowance.

The story of Muungano wa Wanakiambiu is a story of Social Innovation. Social innovation occurs in situations where people think of developing simple solutions to community problems. The endervor started to unite the Kiambiu Residents not only achieved its aim but has also contributed immensely to improving their living conditions. There is a great need for integration of Kenyans not only in Kiambiu but in the entire country. The fact that there is prejudice makes us not being able to address our development needs.

A process of deliberate integration could lead us to  experience a change in social relations especially with regard to influencing the governance while increasing participation in social political process. This happens because the once excluded person feels that he or she has been integrated in the societal structures that alienated him or her in the past.

Decreasing social exclusion has many positive outcomes such as increasing integration independence and participation in various dimensions of life that helps people like their life respectively.

 

Traditional Culture Impedes the Fight against HIV in Kenya

By Julie Bowen

The battle against HIV/ADS in Kenya is also a battle against entrenched traditions and taboos. In the rural villages, its existence is either denied or spoken of in whispers. To these people, AIDS is not real: this is Chira, a deadly wasting disease caused by a curse that strikes down anyone who transgresses society’s norms, which can be treated only by the village medicine men. This plays into the hands of opportunists, such as the rogue herbalists who see only profit in suffering, or the vested interests of those who persist in the stigmatisation of AIDS victims – seen not least in the rigid short-sightedness of the Catholic Bishops of Kenya, who only exacerbate the problem with their hard-line pronouncements against the use of contraceptives.

Women and poverty

Throughout Kenya, women are at a disadvantage in all things. In the communities of Nyanza Province for example, the twin social stigmas of poverty and HIV/AIDS, plus the lower status of women, polygamy and the practice widow inheritance, make women particularly at risk of HIV infection. The rate of infection in the province stands at 14.7% compared to the national average of 9%. However, rates vary enormously within the province, with the Suba district showing a rate as high as 41%. Average infection rates for women in the whole of Kenya are 6.9%, compared to men at 4.4% and children at 0.9%.

Pamela Dola is a member of the Luo community in the Lake Victoria region. When her brother-in-law died of AIDS, custom dictated that his widow was then inherited by Pamela’s husband as a second wife. Three months later, the second wife died. Shortly afterwards, Pamela’s husband was taken ill and died, leaving Pamela to single-handedly raise her three children as well as the five children of the dead wife and brother-in-law. This story contains all the ingredients that make HIV/AIDS infection a high risk in such communities, where women lack the freedom to control their own lives, and sex is of prime importance in every aspect of the culture.

By custom, a widow is unclean and has to endure a ritual cleansing immediately after the death of her husband. A widow who refuses to have sex with another man is considered cursed or at least unlucky and are usually ostracised. Similarly, many of life’s important milestones such as moving house, or even the routine stages in cultivating the land are marked by ritual sex, which also has protective powers: for example, if a parent dies, a man must have sex with his wife before leaving home or be cursed. Women are seen as property and are expected not to complain when another wife comes into the house or the husband has extramarital affairs. In such a society, where a man may have sex with several women, where HIV is rife, where even its existence is denied and every death is explained away, and where education is poor and poverty drives many women into prostitution or early marriage, we see a perfect recipe for the spread of the HIV, where the heaviest burden is carried by women.

Fighting the epidemic

The Kenyan Ministry of Health has tracked the spread of HIV since 1990 through annual sentinel surveys in antenatal clinics. The turning point came around the end of the decade, when rates of adult infection peaked at 14% and the government recognised that the burden of high mortality and ill health on both the rural and urban population was eroding family ties and social cohesion. A national emergency was declared and the newly created National Aids Control Council (NACC) led the response to the epidemic with the launch of the Total War on AIDS (TOWA) campaign. More than a decade later, the UNAIDS Global Report on the AIDS epidemic for the years 2003 to 2008 shows a decline in infection rates and risk behaviour alongside increased knowledge of HIV prevention and treatment. However, death rates and numbers of new infections remain high. NACC estimates the number of Kenyans living with the disease at more than 1.1 million; and after more than a decade of decline, infection figures are again beginning to rise. While improvements in medical science and services help to control the problem, entrenched cultural practices still act as a brake on progress.          

The herbalist

With the spread of HIV, the herbalists thrive. Nobody wants the stigma of being HIV positive, so secrecy is common. Amidst fear and suspicion, the herbalists see an untapped potential for profit, but fill it only with more sorrow for the unfortunate victim. Herbal medicine is not regulated by law and there is no code of ethics among herbalists. The Kenya Medical Research Institute has established a requirement for safety assessments to be made on all drugs including traditional herbal medicines, but there is no control mechanism to ensure they are implemented. 

People like Jesse Ng’ang’a, from Gilgil in the Rift Valley region, who kept his HIV positive status a secret from his wife, family and neighbours and was looking for a release from his daily dose of antiretroviral drugs, was easy pickings. The herbalist first interrogated him about his life and the history of his disease, and then told him that through his healing powers he had cured ninety-eight cases of AIDS and had become famous and influential. An hour long consultation followed that included prayers and invocations to the supernatural. He then explained that the fee would be KSh. 4,000 ($45), with a further KSh. 10,000 ($112) for the 60 day course of treatment. Jesse then had to sign a memorandum of understanding that bound him to make the full payment for the treatment after completion or he would forfeit the title deed to his land. He was given a concoction of herbs that made him feel drunk for several days. After this he came to his senses and went back on his antiretroviral drugs. He told his wife about his infection and she encouraged him to go to the Kikopey Diatomite Community Based Organisation, a home based self help group that was able to offer him support.

Determined resistance by such individuals and organisations to the pressure by society on the HIV-positive to be ashamed and secretive about their status can help turn the tide of the epidemic. HIV/AIDS has profoundly challenged Kenyan society, putting a burden on its healthcare system. Only by the breaking down of some of society’s barriers, its prejudices and traditions, will the war against HIV eventually be won.

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Combating Alcohol and Drug Abuse in Kenya

By Julie Bowen

In Kenya, John Mututho is a household name. His anti-alcohol campaign made him the subject of hate among many beer lovers and bar owners.  After his elder brother’s death in 2007 as a result of alcoholism, Mututho vigorously pursued alcohol control with a focus on the social impact of the issue rarely seen amongst Kenyan politicians. In 2010, he won his battle with the alcohol industry to implement Kenya’s first Alcohol Control Act that limited the operation time of bars and other alcohol outlets to 5.00pm till 11.00pm on weekdays and 2.00pm to 11.00pm on weekends. The Act is known as Mututho’s Law. Was he celebrated as a hero? In the succeeding 2013 elections, he didn’t even win his party ticket. One dedicated Nairobi social worker smiles wryly at the story as if it neatly encapsulates all the social ills of Kenya today. ‘Do we drink because we’re Kenyans, or are we Kenyans because we drink? That is the question.’ In Kenya, the drinking of alcohol, the life of the pub and the world of men, are indivisible.

An expanding market

Sub-Saharan Africa is the new prime territory for multinational alcohol companies looking to increase their profits; here are the perfect conditions for an expanding market. There is a relatively small consumption of commercial alcohol alongside a rising middle class with disposable income, a huge potential market of young people coming of age, and an informal moonshine industry about four times the size of the commercial market, which governments are eager to control; but when use turns to abuse, Africa cannot cope.

Kenya is ill-equipped to deal with the health problems associated with alcohol abuse. The ‘youth bulge,’ with a growing percentage of the population made up of children and young adults, means that many young drinkers are unemployed. They are drawn to the cheaper moonshine, called chang’aa – literally ‘kill me quick’ – which often contains methanol and other toxic additives and has causes more deaths than AIDS or TB. Moves to reduce this market in favour of commercial alcohol will do nothing to solve the problem.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) Report on Alcohol and Health 2011, while average alcohol consumption figures (with the exception of South Africa) are low, the rest of sub-Saharan Africa has the world’s highest proportion of binge drinkers; some 25% of drinkers drink excessively. Men do the drinking, families feel the effects: neglect, squandering of money and increased domestic violence are the common results. Mary Wainaina, a programme coordinator at Eden Village Rehabilitation Centre, explained: ‘they’ll say “I was drunk, I didn’t know what I was doing, I’m sorry,” you know, all that. So it makes it easier for them.’

Fighting drug and alcohol abuse

In a speech delivered at the opening of the 2nd National Conference on Alcohol and Drug Abuse at Kasarani in June 2013, President Uhuru Kenyatta said that his government was ‘fully committed to the attainment of high and sustainable levels of economic development within a stable and secure environment. I am aware that this commitment cannot translate into reality if our youth are sucked into alcohol and drug abuse. Moreover, drug abuse-related ailments and complications are an additional burden to the government, which must be avoided at all costs.’

Just as alcohol consumption and abuse is largely a male preserve, so too is the issue of drug abuse, especially amongst those in their early 20s. It has a stranglehold on the young men of the nation, causing a waste of life and opportunity. In his June speech, President Kenyatta also drew attention to the NACADA 2012 survey on drugs and alcohol, which showed that 13% of children aged 10-14 have used an intoxicating substance, mostly alcohol followed by cigarettes. Figures rise with increasing age, as does use of drugs such as miraa (or khat), marijuana, controlled drugs such as heroin and cocaine, and prescription drugs, including those for hypertension, diabetes, epilepsy, HIV and AIDS. The increasing misuse of ‘prescription only’ drugs, which is made easy by their sale over the counter, particularly antibiotics, is contributing to the rise in new strains of bacterial infections alongside an increasing resistance to treatment. According to a rapid assessment of drug abuse by the United Nations International Drug Control Programme (UNDCP) in partnership with the Kenyan government, drug abuse has permeated all strata of Kenyan society, and that an erosion of traditional cultural values and discipline at family and community level, which formerly prescribed the circumstances under which drugs and intoxicants could be used, has now largely removed the stigma with a resultant rise in abuse.

President Kenyatta has ordered security forces to deport foreigners suspected of drug trafficking, and required of all County Commissioners that they report on measures taken in their respective counties to fight the drug problem. He has also urged the Ministry of Health and development partners to assist in the provision of addiction treatment, rehabilitation and preventive services. He said: ‘My appeal to the leaders, both in government and in the community is that we must take seriously the responsibility of ensuring that our youth are not exposed to drugs.’

The young at risk

Alcohol and drug abuse is highest between the ages 15-29, with the culture of drinking starting at primary school. Eden Village director of treatment, Tony Njeru, said: ‘People in schools are so focused on passing exams that they have actually missed out on so many other things they can do that can make their life rich in school. If you ask a high school kid today whether he knows any art gallery in Nairobi, he’ll tell you he doesn’t know; but he knows all the different pubs in the city.’

Bill Sinkele, founder and director of Support for Addictions Prevention and Treatment in Africa (SAPTA), has worked for 18 years with some of Kenya’s most marginalized groups, including alcoholic kids from the slums of Nairobi. He says that underage drinkers look only to a future of increased drinking, surrounded by billboards that make alcohol look appealing. The astonishing thing is that multinationals in Africa get tax breaks for selling alcohol to the poor. Governments in the west are considering the introduction of minimum pricing standards to prevent sales to children, while in Africa, with soaring food prices and easily obtained cheap alcohol, the opposite is the case. The new Kenyan government realized the stupidity of this and rescinded the tax breaks. SABMiller, one of the world’s largest brewers, has deflected allegations of exploitation by establishing water bottling plants and becoming ‘the face and name of the regional mineral water market.’

Bill Sinkele is understandably pessimistic. He says the alcoholic will see a problem only when he’s fired, his wife has left, or he’s had an accident and been arrested. ‘It has nothing to do with African culture; it has everything to do with the disease. I don’t think our government or the infrastructure available can even scratch the surface of the problem that we have.’

Alcohol consumption continues to rise. The affluent may have the means to cope; the poor do not. In one of Nairobi’s poorest slums, beside the toxic, waste laden Mathare River, people and pigs pick over rubbish for a living. Here the largest of four illegal moonshine distilleries runs day and night to produce the filthy tasting chang’aa. Workers claim they have never produced a fatal brew. It is only later when adulterated with embalming fluid, fuel or antiretroviral drugs that the problems start. Police habitually put on a staged raid, then return for their daily bribe. The distillery employs more than 100 people and turns over close to $1 million per year. James Anunda, 18 years old, his swollen fingers attesting to five years manning the scalding barrels of distillate, explains that this is the cash crop of Mathare, and the lucky few become tycoons in the business, employing younger men like James to do the hard work. 10 shillings (about 10 US cents) buys you one watered-down shot. You hope you can afford the price of unconsciousness. The black mud of the river bank is littered with the industry’s casualties – red-eyed, unsteady on their feet, or lost in drunken oblivion.

UN: 142 Million Girls Could be Married Before 18

NEW YORK / NAIROBI, October 12, 2012 (CISA ) –

If current trends continue, the number of girl child marriages will increase dramatically over the next 10 years, according to Marrying too Young: End Child Marriage, a new report released by the United Nations Population Fund, UNFPA,  on the inaugural International Day of the Girl Child. The report also finds that, despite laws to prevent its practice, child marriage has remained mostly constant in developing countries over the past decade.

“No social, cultural or religious rationale for child marriage can possibly justify the damage these marriages do to young girls and their potential,” said UNFPA Executive Director, Dr Babatunde Osotimehin. “A girl should have the right to choose whom she marries and when. Since many parents and communities also want the very best for their daughters, we must work together to end child marriage.

It is the only course by which we can avert what otherwise is the human tragedy of child marriage.”
In 2010, 158 countries reported that 18 years was the minimum legal age for marriage for women without parental consent or approval by a pertinent authority. Still, in 2010, one in three girls, or 67 million girls, were married before their 18th birthday in developing countries (excluding China).

Half of these child marriages took place in Asia, with another one fifth in sub-Saharan Africa. But the practice is also widespread in some communities in Latin America, the Middle East and Eastern Europe.
Progress has been made, and the report finds that child marriage has declined in some developing countries, including Armenia, Bolivia, Ethiopia and Nepal, among other countries.
By 2030, the number of child brides marrying each year will have grown from 14.2 million in 2010 to 15.1 million that is over 14 per cent if current trends continue
“Child marriage is an appalling violation of human rights and robs girls of their education, health and long-term prospects,” said Dr Osotimehin. “Marriage for girls can lead to complications of pregnancy and childbirth—the main causes of death among 15-19-year-old girls in developing countries.”
A group of young people came together at The UN complex in Nairobi to mark this day. It was the first and officials from the UN hoped that in future there shall be much more publicity and awareness for the event.

Ms Batula Abdi, National Programme Officer in charge of Youth at UNFPA urged the girls to stand firm in their resolute and believe that they can even do better than the boy child.
“We are enabling and empowering young people. We do this through advocacy, to create a legislative environment so that they are able to enjoy their rights, including their right to education.  UNFPA also focuses on Family Life Education with the purpose of ensuring that young people have decision-making skills, skills to resist peer pressure. We teach these both in school and outside school.” said Ms Abdi.

Others who addressed the young people include Ms Eshila Maravanyika, Deputy Director, United Nations Information Centre (UNIC), Ms Irene Mwakesi, National Information Officer, UNIC and Janice Nduati also from UNIC.
Girls who are poor, have little or no education and live in rural areas are most likely to marry or enter child marriages. Girls living in rural areas of the developing world are twice as likely to enter marriage before 18 as their urban counterparts, and girls with no education are over three times more likely to do so than those with secondary or higher education. Girls’ vulnerability to child marriage substantially increases during humanitarian crises.
“When I was 14, I was pressured into getting married, but I knew this was not good for my health or future. The girls in my village who got married young stopped going to school and some even died giving birth,” said Salamatou Aghali Issoufa, a young woman from Niger who was able to convince her parents to delay her marriage. “I wanted to stay in school and become a midwife.”

Governments and leaders have been urged to end child marriage by: Enacting and enforcing national laws that raise the age of marriage to 18, for both girls and boys, using data to identify and target geographic “hotspots” – areas with high proportions and numbers of girls at risk of child marriage, expanding prevention programmes that empower girls at risk of child marriage and address the root causes underlying the practice and mitigating the harmful impact of child marriage on girls.

The UNFPA works to deliver a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person’s potential is fulfilled.

 

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