Princess Senate of Lesotho inaugurated as the National Champion to “end child marriages”
The Ending Child Marriage campaign was launched in 2017 making Lesotho the 21st African Union country to do so.
Maseru.- Princess Senate of Lesotho was inaugurated as the National Champion to “end child Marriages”. The ceremony was witnessed by her parents – their Majesties King Letsie III and Queen Masenate as well as her siblings Prince Lerotholi and Princess ’Maseeiso. The government was represented by the Deputy Prime Minister and several government ministers, among them the ministers of social development, education and training, justice and home affairs.
“Take a child to school, keep them in school and end child marriage” says Princess Senate of Lesotho
In her maiden speech, Princess Senate appealed to her peers to stay in school and not to be enticed by marriage; calling on parents to keep their children in school and not to subject them to early marriage.
“Early marriages rob children of their childhood, denying them an opportunity for a fruitful and a bright future characterised by solid education, good health and robust development,” she said.
The Princess called on community leaders to root out child marriage, a harmful cultural practice that violates the rights of children and debilitates their growth. She called on policy makers/legislators to accelerate the implementation of laws that protect children’s rights.
“We are flowers, we are a resource – please protect us and help us reach our full potential”, she said.
Adolescents from various fora through songs, dance, poems and speeches welcomed the role of the Princess describing her as “the Princess with a conscience”.
Welcoming the Princess Kabelo Kelepa, leader of opposition in the Children’s Parliament said “it takes the whole country to end child marriage and it is everyone’s business to do so. We as the children of Lesotho promise to fully support the Princess in this journey.’’
UNICEF Lesotho Representative Nadi Albino said that the leadership of Princess Senate will strengthen country efforts to put child marriage and its multifaceted linkages with HIV/AIDS, teenage pregnancies, sexual exploitation, health issues, maternal and infant mortality, school dropout issues and others squarely on the government agenda.
‘‘The commitment of Princess Senate and indeed the Royal Family to fight for the rights of children, particularly girls, is greatly appreciated and recognized as a critical step by the UN family,’’ reiterated Albino.
’Matebatso Doti, Minister of Social Development said “We have walked a very long journey with our stakeholders trying to empower Basotho children. We are very pleased that the Princess is going to join us in this journey.’
The 2016 Census found that 24 percent of women aged 20 to 24 were married before the age of 18. This places Lesotho among the 13 countries in the Eastern and Southern Africa region (ESAR) with a child marriage prevalence “above 20 percent” thus country need to needs to intensify efforts to eliminate child marriage.