A National Conference on combating underage marriage in Eritrea was conducted on the 11th of June at Asmara Palace Hotel. The conference was aimed at launching a national campaign to end child marriage in Eritrea once and for all.
The conference was attended by senior government officials, diplomats, religious leaders as well as invited guests.
At the opening session, Mrs. Amina Nur-Hussein, the Minister of Health, underlined that since independence the Government of Eritrea has been tirelessly working to bring an end to child marriage. Minister Amina pointed out that encouraging outcome has been registered so far. She also stressed that more needs to be done to reach the desired result.
The special envoy and Commissioner of Social Affairs of the African Union Commission, Dr. Mustapha Sidiki Kaloko pointed out that the African Union Commission views child marriage as a social, cultural and economic problem that cannot be neglected as it has devastating and long term effects on the life of young girls. He also expressed appreciation to the Eritrean government’s continuous efforts towards ending the harmful practice and working towards promotion and protection of the rights of the young girls and women.
Representatives from the Ministry of Labour and Human Welfare, the chairperson of the National Union of Eritrean Women (NUEW), Mrs. Tekea Tesfamichael, Dr. Suliemon Braimoh from the UNICEF and Dr. Dan Odallo from UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, delivered key note speeches.
A number of experts also delivered research papers regarding the status of child marriage, the harmful consequences of child marriage, the history and current social and legal aspects of child marriage in Eritrea. Religious leaders also presented messages at the event.
Testimonies from two child marriage survivors, Mrs. Mihret Beraki a mother of 2 and Ms. Fatima Hamed shared their stories and experiences of child marriage and its negative impacts in their lives.
A video entitled ‘The Voice of Children’ that gives a glimpse on child marriage from children’s perspective and a cultural show by Wari Children’s Cultural Troupe, songs, poems, dramas and presentations by students were among the programs staged in the conference.