The Ministry of Gender, Children & Social Protection (Mgcsp) is deeply concern about statements emanating from some quarters attributed to the promotion of child marriage.
The Ministry takes serious exception to any utterances or statements that have the propensity to under-mind and derail the progress government and its partners have made in achieving a zero tolerance on child marriage.
Ending child marriage in Liberia is indeed a mandatory task for every Liberian regardless of religious affiliation, and if we are to make progress in global efforts to attain the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) we must act now. It is not that simple but it can be attained.
The ministry strongly believes that this will require explicit commitment, visionary leadership, and support from grassroots advocacy to address many of the cultural practices and behaviors that place young women and girls at increased multiple health risks.
We warn against people using their platform to promote acts that are in serious violation to the rights of women and girls. The expert body that monitors the Convention on the Elimination on All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in its General Recommendation 21, which explicitly deals with equality in marriage and family relations, outlaws child marriage, and stipulates 18 years as the minimum age for marriage for males and females.
Marriage is a formalized, binding partnership between consenting adults, which sanctions sexual relations and gives legitimacy to any offspring. It is still a respected and valued social institution throughout the world.
The ministry therefore encourages civil society, traditional leaders and others to recognize that child marriage has a devastating impact to include fistula (pupu & pepe sickness), disability and death on girls and the nation as a whole. We are also impressed by the determination of all those who have committed and are working to bring an end to this scourge. But the challenge of child marriage remains pressing.
We urge all Liberians to build on the universal commitment and to do all that they can to provide girls with alternatives to marriage. We have seen how empowerment programs can transform a girl’s life, increasing her confidence and her ability to make choices about her own future.
Therefore, we are confident that we can end child marriage in one generation but we must work together. Everyone in Liberia has a role to play in ending this harmful practice including traditional and religious leaders, parents, NGOs, the media, and young people, especially girls. By working in partnership, we know that Liberia can achieve this.-Press release