New York — President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda has emphasized the importance of education for girls and skills training to boost women's economic empowerment and financial independence in the fight against child marriage.
"If they can get out of dependence on parents or husbands, then girls can have free choice," Museveni said in New York at a high-level side event for global leaders aimed at ending child marriage in Africa by 2030.
On the margins of the 72nd Session of the UN General Assembly, the governments of Zambia and Canada, with support from UN Women, UNICEF, UNFPA and the African Union Commission, hosted a high-level side event for global leaders to renew their commitments and accelerate efforts to end child marriage in Africa by 2030.
"Girls who marry young are often denied their rights," said President of Zambia Edgar Lungu. "Ending child marriage by 2030 will require a range of action, including making sure girls have access to quality education, legal reforms and changing traditional harmful practices."
The September 18 event, was also attended by President of Malawi, Peter Mutharika, and a host of senior officials, provided an opportunity to renew existing partnerships to end child marriage in the build up to the second African Girls' Summit on Ending Child Marriage in Africa.
"We cannot harvest the best potential unless we stop early marriage," said Mutharika of Malawi. "Every child must be given empowerment and wings of hope to fly very high. We must invest more in our young people."
UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka moderated the interactive dialogue and expressed her appreciation for the support of the leaders.
Emphasizing the importance of continued work on the critical issue of ending child and forced marriages, she said: "It is about acceleration. Accelerating action to 2030, so by that time we have eradicated this harmful practice," said Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka. "If we don't empower girls, there is no hope for anyone else."
Worldwide, almost 750 million women and girls alive today were married before their 18th birthday. In West and Central Africa, where child marriage is most common, more than four in 10 girls were married before age 18. Although child marriage is slowly declining worldwide, if current trends continue, due to population growth, the total number of child brides will remain around 750 million in 2030. A third of them will be African. Ending child, early and forced marriages is now a specific target of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG 5).
Museveni set to meet Trump
President Museveni is in New York, for the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly currently taking place at the UN Headquarters.
The UN General Debate will open on Tuesday, 19 September 2017 under the theme 'Focusing on People: Striving for Peace and a Decent Life for All on a Sustainable Planet.'
Museveni is also scheduled to hold various high level engagements during his tour here ahead of his address to the UN, including a meeting with US President Donald Trump on the political Declaration on the UN reform and a circle of leadership High level meeting on the prevention of sexual abuse and exploitation hosted by the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.
He will later hold a bilateral meeting with Guterres before addressing the Uganda Investment Conference of about 200 participants.
President Museveni will address the UN General assembly Tuesday night (10:00 -10:15 pm Ugandan time).
Soon after arrival on Sunday, Museveni met a delegation from Qatar Investment Fund, led by the CEO Sheikh Abdulla bin Mohammed bin Saud al-Thani at Park Hyatt Hotel .
He told the Qatar delegation that Uganda is fast becoming a middle-income country with vast investment opportunities in agro-processing, industrialization and the service based sector.
"Uganda is moving towards becoming a fast world country based on four sectors; commercial agriculture, industries, services and ICT," he said.
The President said investment in the four critical areas including in ICT would promote industrialisation as Uganda moves to becoming a middle income country.
Sheikh Abdulla expressed interest to invest in infrastructure development projects in Uganda such as electricity, agro processing industries and the hospitality business.
The Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) is Qatar's state-owned holding company that is characterized as a National Wealth Fund. It specializes in domestic and foreign investment. The QIA was founded by the State of Qatar in 2005 to strengthen the country's economy by diversifying into new asset classes.
Museveni also met South Sudan's 1st Vice President, Taban Deng, and his delegation in New York on sidelines of the UN General Assembly.