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Oct 9, 2020

N.C.F.C.’s Roadmap Points the Way to End Child Marriage and Early Union

Today the National Committee for Families and Children held a virtual launch for its roadmap to end child marriage and early unions. It’s been in the pipeline for a few years through consultations with stakeholders and collaboration with partner agencies.  The N.C.F.C., with support from U.N.F.P.A. and UNICEF, came up with a strategy to address this global issue that prevents children and adolescents from achieving their full potential. News Five tuned in to the panel sessions and discussions online. Here’s a report on the event.


Andrea Polanco, Reporting

The National Committee for Families and Children is seeking to end child marriage and early unions in Belize. Although the formal or early union between two persons under the age of eighteen is a human right violation and a form of gender-based violence – one in five females and one in ten males in Belize between the ages of fifteen to nineteen are in child marriages or early unions – making it the second highest rate of child marriage or early unions in Caribbean. There are many reasons why girls and boys enter child marriage or early unions – and when they do the consequences are serious.


Pearl Stuart

Pearl Stuart, Chairperson, N.C.F.C.

“A study conducted by GoJoven Belize reveals that girls and boys enter child marriage and early unions primarily because of social pressures; rebellion; pregnancy; poverty and lack of parental support. Child marriage and early unions have many consequences for our teen girls and boys. Our girls are exposed to health risk of early or unwanted pregnancies; increased risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections; and limiting their social development. While in most cases, our boys are forced to terminate their formal education to enter the work force, limiting their social and economic development.”


So, today the N.C.F.C. launched a plan that details how they will put an end to child marriage and early union. A range of strategies and interventions form a central part of the roadmap. From access to parent education and youth friendly spaces; social and behaviour change communication programmes to influence gender and social norms. UNICEF Communications Consultation Sherlene Tablada says that educational opportunities and access to prevention and protective services are critical.


Sherlene Tablada, Communications Consultant, UNICEF

“One of the biggest pillar that we are talking about has to do with education, in particular, second chance education because we are well aware that we have a high percentage of young persons who are not in secondary education and therefore one of the activities we are focused on the roadmap is to expand access to second chance education and skills training opportunities that are linked to economic opportunities who are not in formal education.   A strong pillar of this road map is about prevention and protection. So, how can we ensure that we strengthen the early warning systems to ensure that early interventions are in place to decrease school dropout.  While there are some support services what is happening is that we don’t have a comprehensive system of support services – so girls might be able to access one service, say the health service but there is not a strong link between the health services and the protection service that ensures that this girl is able to access a steady flow of support services to help her to deal with the challenges that she is facing.”


Judith Alpuche, Chief Executive Officer in the Ministry of Human Development says the community and family unit must be key players to put an end to child marriage and early unions.


Judith Alpuche

Judith Alpuche, C.E.O., Ministry of Human Development

“It is really about how do we get the community and the major duty bearer to help us to protect children; the parents and the families. It is really the attitude of the community as well see that when young people enter into these unions early because of insufficient information or being forced into early sexual debut.”


Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.


Today’s launch was held to coincide with the International Day of the Girl Child 2020, which is being observed globally on Sunday, October eleventh.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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