KAMAPALA, Cultural and religious leaders in Uganda have been urged to champion the fight against rampant early child marriages and early child bearing in the country.

World Bank statistics indicate that Uganda is one of the countries with the highest incidence of child marriages. A Senior Social Development Specialist at the Bank, Catherine Barasa Askenye, argues that without the involvement of cultural leaders and religious leaders in the fight, all the strategies and programmes to end the problem will be just a waste of resources and time.

We need to have these people on board because of their influence in the community. Many people believe in them, she stressed when addressing a National Partners' Meeting on Reducing Child Marriages in Uganda, organized by Uganda Media Development Foundation (UMDF), here Friday.

Asekenye noted that the same leaders are found in communities where these evils are committed. We need a holistic approach to address this problem, with every stakeholder on board, she added.

She thanked the media for its involvement in the effort to sensitise the public on the dangers of child marriages and early child-bearing. We thank the media for coming on board to end this vice. With your influence and coverage, we think this can supplement on the already existing government strategies and other interventions by various stakeholders, Asekenye noted.

UMDF Director James Kigozi said the foundation had partnered several upcountry radio stations and trained journalist to tackle the problem through exposing the cases and sensitising the public on the dangers of early marriage.

Kigozi said a recent study in the areas of operation showed that about 40 per cent of the girls are married at a young age but noted that the trend had changed since the programme started in different districts.


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