First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa address delegates at the interface with girl child and resources persons at Belvedere Teachers College in Harare yesterday.-(Picture by Tawanda Mudimu)

First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa has launched the “First Lady and the girl-child” interface programme and will meet young girls and women in the coming months as she steps up her drive to end early childhood marriages and other challenges confronting them.

Addressing about 500 girls and young women ranging  from Grade 6 to tertiary level at the inaugural interface at Belvedere Technical Teachers College in Harare yesterday, the First Lady said the scourge of early childhood marriages is preventing girls from realising their full potential.

The interface – held under the theme “Our girl, Our pride, Our future, Let’s invest in her” – also creates a platform to fight teenage pregnancies, drug abuse and sexual immorality.

“We are faced with a problem of child marriages, whereby another child is having a child herself,” she said.

“Most children are failing to finish school because of early childhood marriages. There are statistics which show that this a problem that we have in all our 10 provinces.

“We all have different and at times difficult backgrounds, but you have to strive to be someone in life. “You will be called someone through your hard work, perseverance and self-respect.

“I am also pained by what is happening these days, where girls are going to bars, strip naked and dance, in what is called strip tease.

Rampant drug and alcohol abuse by girls was also of great concern.

“You have to get your education first, then you will make a choice on whom you would want to marry.”

Through the platform, girls will also be given an opportunity to speak out about their challenges.

Yesterday’s inaugural interface was attended by primary and secondary students from Harare, Manicaland, Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland West and Mashonaland East provinces, while tertiary students were drawn from the University of Zimbabwe, Harare Institute of Technology, Harare Polytechnic College, Morgan Zintech Teachers College, Seke Teachers College and Belvedere Technical Teachers College.

Some of the topics discussed at the interface included sexual reproductive health, early childhood marriages, confidence, grooming, etiquette and personal hygiene.

The platform also touched on issues such as entrepreneurship, careers, entertainment, digital and social media.Sunday mail