Save the Children in Ethiopia celebrates Day of the African Child with a focus on child marriages

Monday 22 June 2015

Ethiopian girls meet the Deputy President of Amhara region

Save the Children, in collaboration with its partner, Amhara Women Association, organised a meeting of 10 girls with Binalf Andualem, Deputy President of the Amhara Region. This meeting was carried out on June 16, 2015 at the Office of the Deputy President with the aim of reinforcing the commitment of the Amhara region’s government to end child marriage where it is widely practiced unlike other regions of the country.  

The selected ten girls having the meeting with Binalf Andualem, Deputy President of the Amhara Region

Ten girls of 12-17 years of age identified from different zones and rural areas of the region met the regional president, raised key issues related to child marriage and demanded action from the region. Three of these girls are survivors of child marriage themselves and they said that they raised their concerns and called on more action based on their real experiences on child marriage.

The issues and questions raised and discussed with the president were around engagement, accountability, awareness creation and short-term and long-term plans of the regional government to end child marriage. Each student boldly asked questions that specifically focused on the root causes of child marriage, its current status at the regional level and its associated impacts, major reasons for its widespread, government commitment and action, new strategy sought and the like.

The Deputy President of the Amhara Region took each question on board and provided answers. He underlined that each of the question is very important and reflects the reality facing the region.

The Deputy President described the meeting as “a unique opportunity to discuss and strengthen efforts to end child marriage, as Ethiopia joined other African nations in commemorating the Day of the Africa Child under the theme "Accelerating Our Collective Efforts to End Child Marriage in Africa”.

The Deputy President, who is also head of the regional education bureau, underlined that active engagement of all the concerned stakeholders such as schools, parents, government structure at all levels, CSOs, media and others is vital to address the issue. He also mentioned that the government is well aware of the loose coordination among the wider stakeholders at local and regional levels as well, and it is committed to close this gap.

He also expressed the interventions of the regional government to eradicate any form of harmful traditional practices (HTPs) which include child marriage, which is the key focus of the region. Highlighting the government’s commitment to end all forms of HTPs by 2025, the Deputy President said, “There is promising progress that ought to be acknowledged, but we need to exert more efforts.”

Finally, having appreciated the commitment of the girls to show this kind of concern which represents many other girls in the region, the Deputy President thanked Amhara Women Association and Save the Children for supporting campaigns to end child marriage.

The event was broadcast widely through the regional media. 

Consultative meeting on the topic of child marriage

Save the Children also organised a high-level consultative meeting on ending child marriage in Bahir Dar City of the Amhara Region of Ethiopia on June 15, 2015. The event was organised in connection with the Day of the African Children which was commemorated today under the theme “Accelerating our Collective Efforts to End Child Marriage in Africa” across the Africa Region.

A high-level consultative meeting held on ending child marriage in Bahir Dar City of the Amhara Region of Ethiopia on June 15, 2015.

The meeting brought together Alimaw  Mengist, State Minister of Women, Children and Youth Affairs of Ethiopia and senior Amhara Region authorities as well as representatives of UN agencies including UNICEF, NGOs and faith-based and community based organizations to discuss the coordinated response to end child marriage in Ethiopia in general and Amhara Region in particular.

The State Minister said, “Ethiopia would leverage every opportunity and works to deliver its promises pledged during the first Girl Summit held in London (July 2014) to end child marriage by 2025.”

Alimaw also urged officials of the region and partners to scale up promising achievements and put more efforts to end child marriage.

At the meeting, the Amhara Region authorities presented their key achievements, best practices and lessons learned and key strategies they employed. They also discussed challenges and proposed actions needed to be taken. The proposed actions include strengthening coordination and dialogue among different sectors on regular basis that helped them identify the root causes of child marriage and propose key strategies based on facts and experience to end child marriage.

Save the Children’s higher level regional meeting is an extension of the advocacy meeting held in the same region which has the highest child marriage prevalence in the country during the Race for Survival event in October 2014 during which the regional president and his bureau heads pledged to mainstream national strategy on harmful traditional practices and strengthen multi-sectoral coordination as a key a strategy to end child marriage.

Save the Children disseminated its policy brief to participants, and the event received media coverage.