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    Saturday, 17 September 2016

    Apostolic churches meet to end child marriages



    SHARON NYAYA
    MIDLANDS BUREAU

    GWERU -
    More than 500 women from Apostolic Churches throughout the country met at Mkoba Teachers' College in Gweru from Friday last week from friday to Sunday, to find ways of ending child marriages.
    Apostolic churches are rated among the highest contributors to child marriages in Zimbabwe because of the religious beliefs and practices.
    The conference which was carried out under the Apostolic Women Empowerment Trust (AWET) banner, an inter-apostolic church organization mandated to spearhead adolescents and women issues and mainstreaming of gender in apostolic church activities was graced by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development Dr. Perpertua Gumbo.
    The conference ran under the theme; 'Apostolic Women Empowerment Trust'. Some of the key objectives were   to open dialogue, create awareness and be educated on the dangers of child marriage.
    "AWET was formed in June 2016. The main focus behind its origin is in line with the government iniative to end child marriages when they implemented the constitutional ruling that no child under the age of 18 shall get married. Since 1931 when the apostolic religion was formed there has never been an all women conference in the apostolic religion. More than 41 apostolic churches from Zimbabwe and outside have their women members gathering here," said national coordinator and founder of AWET Tendayi Gudo.
    Research data from UNICEF 2016 showed that the apostolic religion has the second position on issues concerning child marriages with the traditional religion being at the first position, Pentecostal third and no-religion being the fourth.
    Child marriage violates the fundamental human rights of girls and boys, but mostly affects girls. Girls are denied their right to a consensual marriage, as well as their right to education, protection, economic engagement and reproductive health care.
    The official opening was done by the guest of honour, Minister of Small and Medium Enterprises and Cooperative Development Sithembiso Nyoni whose speech was read by Deputy Director Norah Moyo.
    In her speech Nyoni stressed out that it was pleasing to hear that the women in apostolic church have decided to end the practice of child marriage as their themes suggest.
    Nyoni said that statistics show that approximately one in every three girls in Zimbabwe is married before their 18th birthday. The Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) and Zimbabwe Demographic Health Survey (ZDHS) results of 2014 indicated that child marriages had risen by 3% between 2010 and 2014 from 31% to 34% respectively.
    She said she was pleased that the event is going to be a yearly event with plans to broaden and grow resulting in the termination of child marriages.
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