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Zambian Youth Empower Teen Moms

Founder of the Mwanamfumu Foundation Kayula Chisanga addressing the official opening of the Turning Pages Project, Ndola, Oct 20,2022

Officials at the Mwanamfumu Foundation, a Zambian youth led organization focused on empowering women and the girl child say they recently partnered with several institutions, among them the U.S. Embassy to officially launch a project focused on addressing early child marriages and teen pregnancies.

VOA’s Mike Hove spoke to Kayula Chisanga, the Founder of the Mwanamfumu Foundation, for more on the youth led initiative and how it is empowering teenage mothers in Zambia

Zambian Youth Speaks on Addressing Child Marriages
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The interview was edited for brevity and clarity.

VOA: Tell us more about your partnership with your collaborators and the U.S. Embassy.

Chisanga: The U.S. Embassy, my peers and I have partnered on an initiative called the Turning Pages Project which I started last year when I was on the U.S. sponsored Mandela Washington Fellowship.

When the project started, I used my limited resources to finance the education of a few girls because it was important to me that teenage mothers from rural and low-income areas receive more opportunities after giving birth - to avoid either early marriages or face the challenges that come with raising their children.

The Zambian government has in place the re-entry policy which makes education free from the first to the 12th grade, but several girls still drop out due to the need for other resources such as school uniforms.

VOA: How serious of an issue is early child marriages in Zambia?

Chisanga: Because of them, school dropouts are very high, especially in rural areas and low-income communities because they face several challenges, among them certain cultural norms that do not forbid teenagers from getting married.

VOA: What is the Turning Pages Project doing to convince communities where early teen marriages are a norm to practice otherwise?

Chisanga: When we started working, we learned that it is important to involve locals who are more familiar with the area. As a result, we work hand in hand with the chiefs, local councilors, and authorities, especially those from the Ministry of Education.

These resources have in-depth information on how many girls are married off early and how many are dropping out.

Working with locals also helps us have a better understanding of the environment the teenage mothers are living in, which I believe is pivotal to addressing their challenges.