After almost two years of extensive collaborative and advocacy work, the Parliament in Mozambique approved the Law on Prevention and Combat of Premature Unions (child marriages). The new law aims to prohibit, prevent, mitigate and penalize premature unions or marriages, as well as establish mechanisms to protect children in those unions.
In addition, the Parliament also approved a revision of the Family Law criminalizing the marriage of persons under 18 years with the consent of parents.
In order to further the advocacy efforts, together with the coalition, Save the Children created a media campaign to discuss the issue and negate the risks around passing of the bill. Each story entailed different thematic areas of focus, including personal stories, statistics and testimonials from different people, such as opinion makers and politicians. The media publications were complemented by a social media campaign with messages shared across various media platforms.
There is a general belief that the necessary conditions have been created to eliminate the practice of child marriage in Mozambique, which ranks 10th worldwide, with a prevalence rate of 48%. Having promoted and ensured the establishment of an enabling policy and legal framework is a crucial milestone in driving lasting social change for the eradication of child marriage in Mozambique.
Now, several challenges related to the effective implementation of the law as well as the influence of changes in social norms and cultural practices need to be our focus.
Additionally, the current National Strategy to End Child Marriage ends in 2019. It is imperative that the country maintains support to properly monitor and track progress going forward, particularly as the population continues to rise.
Since 2017, Save the Children in Mozambique has been an active member of the National Coalition for the Elimination of Child Marriages, a network of Civil Society Organizations that led this piece of work, and has been involved in the development process of the Child Marriage Bill, including lobbying for its approval by the National Parliament.