The Minister of Social Development has urged girls to attend school to avoid being engaged in child marriages, saying education determines better future for children.
This, Mrs. ‘Matebatso Doti said at a ceremony held at ‘Manthabiseng Convention Centre where Princess Senate Mohato Seeiso was introduced to the public as the National Champion of Ending Child Marriage.
Princess Senate is the eldest child of Their Majesties, King Letsie III and Queen Masenate Mohato Seeiso.
Mrs. Doti said the appointment of Princess Senate is part of the efforts to strengthen campaign against Child Marriage, which was launched in November 2017.
She alerted that Child Marriage is on the rise in Lesotho as reports show that it has risen from 19 percent to 24 percent, saying since Princess Senate is still in school, she is entrusted to be the best motivator as children would see the importance of going to school instead of getting married.
She therefore encouraged the Princess to be ready to travel all districts in the country, even to hard to reach places due to inaccessibility of roads and that she is will engage in a series of rallies where she will be addressing boys and girls against child marriage.
In her keynote address, Princess Senate expressed her gratitude for having been chosen to be the National Champion of Ending Child Marriage in Lesotho, saying she will against all odds strive to end child marriage in Lesotho.
She commented that marriage is not meant for her age-mates, thereby urging them to give priority to education and enjoy their childhood.
Princess Senate said child marriage is among others influenced by poverty, thereby pleading with parents not to allow children enter into early marriage regardless of poverty stricken situations.
She said it takes a community to raise a child hence urged the public to join hands and end child marriage in Lesotho.
Sharing the same sentiments, the African Union Expert on Ending Child Marriage to Lesotho, Mr. Mohamed Sallieu Barrie defined child marriage as marriage before the age of 18.
He further described it as a violation of human rights, saying child marriage has negative implications for Africa’s economic prosperity and development.
He said the persistence of child marriage has hindered Africa’s efforts to achieve six of eight Millennium Development Goals thus to eliminate extreme poverty, to achieve Universal primary education, to promote gender equality, to reduce child mortality, to improve maternal health and combat HIV/AIDS.
To ensure the welfare of children, the Government of Lesotho has demonstrated its commitment to protecting vulnerable children and families through various legislation, policies, strategies, programmes and structures that promote children’s well-being such as the Education Act 2010, Children’s Protection and Welfare Act 2011, National Multisectoral Child Protection Strategy 2014/2019, National Social Development Policy and Strategy 2014, Foster Care and Adoption Policy for Lesotho 2012 among others.
Ending Child Marriage campaign forms part of the African Union (AU) mandate and is intended to create an opportunity for stakeholders to discuss issues that lead to child marriage and how it affects children as well as to make recommendations and encourage law enforcers to adopt laws that would end child marriage.
Present to grace the ceremony were Their Majesties King Letsie III and Queen Masenate Mohato Seeiso, the Deputy Prime Minister, other Government dignitaries and public servants.