Launching the Report, the first lady said the launch was part of Sierra Leone’s program designed to join the world in the commemoration of the International Day of the Girl.
She said the Day is aimed to show Sierra Leone’s commitment to the empowerment of adolescent girls in the country.
She went on that the Day was also an opportunity for serious reflection on the situation of girls in Sierra Leone.
The first lady thanked and appreciated Purposeful Production for compiling the Report which she termed as instructive, excellent and insightful collection on the cultural drivers of child marriage in Sierra Leone and Guinea.
The Report the first lady noted, goes beyond the platitudes and numbers to investigate the real drivers of child marriage in the society.
She said too many of these countries young girls are forced into early marriage way before they are ready, hence depriving them of the right to realize their fullest potentials and depriving the countries of their contributions to national development.
“As the Report points out, we have 15th highest child marriage prevalence rate in the world. 44% of our girls are marriage off before their 18th birthday and up to 18% of them are married by their 15th birthday.” Mrs. Koroma noted.
She said as indicated in the Report, poverty contributes tremendously to the high rate of child marriage but that it is certainly not the only reason.
She said the Report serves as a nexus on many issues and rightly identifies the root cause as patriarchy.
The release of the Report the first lady continued is very timely, noting that it is coming at a time when she is preparing to co-host a regional high-level meeting on ending child marriage with first ladies of Senegal in Dakar, Senegal from 23rd to 25th October, 2017.
She seeks permission from Purposeful Production to allow her use excerpts from the Report in her presentation at the regional meeting.
The Report revealed that child marriage exists across cultures and it is forced upon girls at different ages, in different places by different people and for different ends.
It is a practice that exists irrespective of faith; the countries with the highest rates of child marriage are home to the world’s three biggest religions.
Moyamba district in Sierra Leone the Report says has a very high rate of child marriage and that 23.4% of girls are married by age 15 and that over 50% of girls are married by age 18.
Mamou in Guinea the Report says has 30.5% of girls married by age 15 and 61.9% before 18, whiles Kambia district in Sierra Leone has 21.7% of girls married by age 15 and this rises to 66.6% of girls married by age 18.
Koinadugu district the Report says has 21.5% of girls married by age 15 and 57.7 by age 18.
Distinguished speakers including Chernor Bah, Co-Founder and Executive Director and Josephine Kamara, Programs Coordinator of Purposeful Production also made meaningful contributions about the Report.