Chimoio (Mozambique), 4 Apr (AIM) – The Finnish government is disbursing about nine million euros (almost 10 million US dollars) per year to finance activities to protect girls from child marriages in five Mozambican provinces.
According to the Finnish ambassador to Mozambique, Anna Kaisa, speaking on Monday in the central city of Chimoio, the programmes are under way in Manica, Zambezia, Niassa, Cabo Delgado and Nampula provinces.
Kaisa said the programme is intended to contribute towards retaining girls at school.
“The situation of child marriage is very serious in Mozambique”, she said. “Many girls marry and become mothers before they are 18 years old. Although there is a law against child and forced marriages, I think it is important to bank on the training of girls, as a way of fighting against poverty”.
She stressed that the main commitment should be to believe in the training of girls so that they have a prosperous future, and this is action that should be undertaken by all Mozambicans.
In this way, she added, each Mozambican will be participating in the economic and social development of the country.
In April, regarded as “women’s month”, a team of five ambassadors are visiting the five provinces. “Our interest”, said Kaisa, “is understanding how work is being done to ensure that girls stay at school. Finland is not working alone. There are four other countries involved, namely Sweden, Canada, Holland and the United Kingdom”.
“The greatest difficulty is in remote areas where we are still recording many cases of child marriages”, she added. “But, since our main goal is to discuss the rights of girls, we are working together with the community and religious leaderships to make society aware of the danger of these practices. We cannot permit that we still have girls marrying before the age of 18”.
The governor of Manica province, Francisca Tomas, told the meeting that the government is open to working with all countries interested in educating and empowering girls.
Many of the victims of child marriage, she said, are rescued and re-admitted to school. “In the schools, we have focal points, and teachers control the girls, making them aware of the importance of studying”.
She added that the delivery of school uniforms and the distribution of bicycles to the girls form part of an initiative by the government and its partners to ensure that girls participate in the teaching and learning process.
Tomas believed that the rate of child marriage is falling, “and we think that, with the participation of everyone, in future we will have a society free of child marriage”.