By Petrida Paul, Law Changer in Tanzania and UN Human Rights Youth Advisory Board member.
Throughout my time as a gender advocate, I have worked on many issues, especially calling out the need to end child marriage. I have felt the responsibility to be the voice of the young girls who are scared to demand for their rights. In the pandemic period, child marriage cases are happening silently. As the world focuses its attention on COVID-19, it is without a doubt that progress is possible. Together we can bring an end to child marriage, even in high prevalence countries. With the right mix of interventions, policies and collective action, change can happen. But young people need to be heard and taken seriously. We're willing to volunteer our time, efforts, and energy to push for an end to child marriage. We are the future leaders and parents, and our voice counts.
The post-pandemic is an opportunity for us to close the gap that has been widened on the work to end child marriage. To demystify customs, traditions and other factors attributing to child marriage, we as young girls and women need to be educated on the contextual issues and be bold in sharing that knowledge. We need to talk about child marriage open as an issue of concern that is gender-centred. We need to stand up for girls' rights and actively seek change in the laws that allow these abuses.
Leaders from across the globe need to step it up. Focused efforts should be made to invest in girls and women's rights treaties. Even though statutory laws are signed, they are not implemented yet. Immediate action needs to be taken.
My message is: Do not sit back and let change happen to you. Change happens with you. Everything is possible if you decide to make it so.