GUWAHATI: The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF)’ effort to build public opinion against child marriage through advocacy and campaigning was launched on Monday at the Guwahati Press Club.
While talking to the reporters during the launching of the week-long campaigning on Monday, UNICEF, Assam Chief Dr Tushar Rane mentioned about the urgent need of reducing child marriage for decreasing maternal and infant mortality. He also stressed having all children in school up to the secondary level to address the issue of child marriage.
Making a presentation on the theme, Dr Chiranjib Kakoti, Coordinator of Adolescent and Child Rights Network, Assam said that child marriage is a violation of child rights and negatively affects a person’s development, education, health, economic potential and future. “It has been seen from various researches that it reinforces the cycle of poverty and perpetrates gender discrimination, illiteracy, as well as high infant and maternal mortality,” Dr Kakoti said.
In Assam, given the high prevalence of child marriage – especially in certain districts in the state, there is a need to focus on broad-based social policy, media and advocacy initiatives to build an agenda and create public opinion about the benefits of not getting married early, Dr Kakoti observed. He further maintained that it is also important to target specific constituencies such as religious leaders, and elected representatives. “Use of mass media to raise awareness and project alternative role models for adolescent; and promote safe and affordable access to upper primary and secondary education and educating adolescent and their families can go a long way in preventing child marriage,” he said.
Dr Kakoti highlighted that orienting and engaging with multiple stakeholder groups in the campaign for discouraging child marriage by providing alternative for empowerment of the perspective children who will be getting married and then developing together with them and children, a series of recommendations on child marriage will drive the agenda at the state level. “This will help create a constituency for children, which will lead to child marriage becoming a political agenda for elected representative and political parties, specially keeping in view the upcoming panchayat and union elections,” he added.
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