Council Commentary

Population Council Hosts Archbishop Desmond Tutu, HRH Princess Mabel van Oranje in Zambia

On Tuesday, September 16th, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and HRH Princess Mabel van Oranje, Chair of Girls Not Brides: The Global Partnership to End Child Marriage, visited with girls participating in the Population Council’s Adolescent Girls Empowerment Program (AGEP). AGEP is designed to find the best ways to improve girls’ social, health, and economic resources so that they can stay in school longer, avoid early marriage, delay sexual activity, and prevent unintended pregnancy and HIV and other STIs. The project is led and being evaluated by the Population Council. The Population Council is at the forefront of directing policy attention to child marriage and in developing and testing effective methods of reducing the practice. Check out a slideshow of their visit at Girls Not Brides.

In a statement released after the visit, Tutu said, “It is encouraging to see that the government, civil society, traditional leaders and others in Zambia have recognised that child marriage has a devastating impact on girls and the nation as a whole. I am impressed by the determination of all those we have met who are working to bring an end to this scourge. . . . We have seen how empowerment programmes can transform a girl’s life, increasing her confidence and her ability to make choices about her own future. We also need to make sure that education, health and other services are accessible and affordable especially for adolescent girls—married and unmarried.”