Early marriage is a major challenge in Zambia_ ZNBC_ August 2016

Date: August 25, 2016
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Name of the story: Early marriage is a major challenge in Zambia

Name of the station: Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation

Country: Zambia


Brief description of the item of work you submitted and motivation of why it is a good example of gender awareness and sensitivity in advancing gender equality Post-2015.

Early marriage is a major challenge in most rural parts of Zambia. In this documentary, we outlined the experience of three young children who fell victim of the early marriage problem. In their villages located in Nchelenge District of Luapula

Province (around 1,000 KM from the capital Lusaka), both girls and boys are married off for various reasons. The children who include two girls and a boy shared their experience in regard circumstances that led to their marriages.

The mother to one of the girls further easily shared with us that the reason she pushed her daughter in marriage was simply that she would be looked after by the young couple. We also tell the story from the male perspective where a young man was forced to marry a girl he impregnated. Their stories take a different dimension, as they were able to return to school and leave the marriages they were forced.

This documentary is a good example of gender awareness and sensitivity as it shows the reasons why these marriages are authorised on cultural grounds. Besides that, the traditional leadership were taken task on the role they have to play in dealing with this vice. In addition, a Christian based NGO World Vision was a key resource and they shared the interventions they are putting in place to deal with the problem of early marriage in that part of the country.


Why did you produce the story? What problem or context is it responding to?

This news documentary was produced for highlighting opportunities that exist for the young boys and girls despite going through forced marriages. While some children have failed to see beyond marriage, the children in this story tell a different experience as they were determined to rebuild their lives using the any little available conviction or hope in their lives after the early marriage experience.

In addition, we highlight these young children as change agents in their community having embraced different forms of sensitisation campaigns against a vice they were victims.

Key objectives

What did you hope to achieve with this coverage?

The ultimate objective we anticipated to achieve was increased sensitisation on the dangers of early marriage and the effects this has on the children and society. It also sought to give a second chance ideology to those that have been victims of child marriages.

Targets audience

Whom did you hope to reach? Did you succeed in reaching this audience? What evidence do you have to that effect?

Yes, it was accomplished as the programme received a lot of feedback from our viewership with interest on how the girls talked to managed to avoid staying in marriage for a long time. Of the documentaries uploaded on the You Tube channel for the reporter making this submission, the early marriage documentary was among the most viewed.

How did you go about producing the programme?

How did you gather the data, how many sources, female and male did you consult? Why did you choose these sources and how were their voices important?

In the first place, we filmed this documentary in collaboration with World Vision because of the interventions they have implemented in the area that was of interest to us. As mentioned in the preamble, we followed the “victims” found in the villages that are about 1,000 kilometres from Lusaka the capital of Zambia.

On the sources we interviewed, 12 were female while 9 were male. We quoted the various persons based on the role they play in the community and the country at large.

The UNICEF Representative and the First Lady gave the international and national dimension to the early marriage problem.

The three victims were key as they shared their experiences on the hardships they encountered. The three were also critical in showing the possibility of rebuilding life after such predicaments.

The District Administrative staff representing different government departments gave the overall picture in relation to the extent of the early marriage problem, health challenges faced by the victims and interventions by the state. We also talked to the local people in the area who equally outlined what their perceptions, experiences and recommendations are about the early marriage problem.


What impact did it have? What evidence do you have to illustrate impact?

Please provide any examples of feedback that you received from the articles (from websites, letters, etc.)

  • More parents are aware of the dangers of marrying children at a tender age
  • Children themselves are now active change agents they are able to report child marriage incidences to the relevant authorities
  • Children are able to dialogue with parents, traditional leadership and teachers on harmful traditional practices such as child marriage. In addition, 10 children who were the survivors of child marriage had their school fees waived by School authorities.
  • The documentary generated national and community debate on the need to end early and forced child marriage
  • The documentary helped parents to understand the magnitude of child marriage and why it is important to keep girls in School.
  • Early marriages initiated by children themselves have reduced from about 10 marriages per quarter to 6
  • Since the documentary programme, about 30 children (22 girls and 8 boys) who were in marriage have had their marriages dissolved by the help of child protection advocacy working groups (CPA WGs) and taken back to school. Because of this move by few of these children to go to school, more children are admiring those ones that have broken relationships to education.

This development has been attributed to statements from parents that they have realized how costly it is for children to be given into early marriage with the fact parents are increasing expense pressure on themselves instead of a relief.

  • More traditional leaders in World Vision operational areas are coming on board to emulate sub Chief Kasumpa and Chief Kambwali who has been key in inflicting discipline on parents that are reported to have taken their children into early marriage. So far, the chief has dissolved three child marriages through his traditional court kind of administration.

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Follow up

How would you conduct a follow up to your story and why?

I would love to return to the villages and see how the three key persons (both the boy and the girls) are faring after their firm decisions to return to school. I have been in touch with one of the two girls talked to and she has passed to grade 10 after writing her grade 9 (junior secondary examinations); hence I would like to document that achievement.

I would further want to document the community sensitization programmes the school pupils have been implementing, has the club membership grown how effective the club is and if other schools outside the World Vision catchment are doing. For the traditional leaders, am keen to know how effective their interventions are progressing.

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