An assessment of child marriages as an impediment to women’s participation in conflict resolution: a case study of Nabvutika compound, Chipata district.

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Kamwenje, Chinjili
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The University of Zambia
This study aimed to generate community-based case study of qualitative information on the practice of child marriages and to assess its impediments to women‟s participation in conflict resolution in Nabvutika Compound of Chipata. It estimated the prevalence of child marriage in the region and assessed its health, physiological, psychological, socioeconomic, and demographic consequences on women‟s participation in conflict resolution. A total of 50 respondents (victims, teachers, social welfare, gender and educational officers, UNICEF consultants and elderly women and men) were interviewed using a semi-structured interview guide and observations were also used. The study has further confirmed that victims of child marriage are vulnerable to gender based violence, high fertility, marital instabilities, and to reproductive health related complications. Women‟s lack of decision- making power in their families and communities is exacerbated by the inherent power imbalance between a young girl and her husband, who is often 10 years or more her senior. This highlighted the practice as an impediment to women‟s participation in conflict resolution. Mitigating the practice of child marriage must be a priority in any development effort in Zambia. Based on the findings of the study, the author makes a number of recommendations to reduce the practice of child marriages including: programs designed specifically to reduce child marriages; working with women‟s associations, the Office of the Ministry of Gender, community organizations, religious and community leaders, influential community members and schools; and working directly with young girls to teach them their rights; strengthening the collaboration between law enforcement, community leaders, women and youth associations, parents, and schools; and providing additional focused training for community-based reproductive health agents so as to enhance national building activities such as conflict resolution processes.
Child marriages. , Women--Conflict resolution.