Tinomuda Chakanyuka, Senior Reporter
ZIMBABWE is set to host an international conference on the rights of the girl child with over 10 000 delegates, most of them youths from churches across the globe expected to troop into the country for the event.
The conference, which is being organised by the Apostolic Christian Council of Zimbabwe (ACCZ), will run from 30 September to 4 October this year in Harare. ACCZ is an ecumenical body of more than 350 Apostolic and Zion churches and sects in the country. Most Apostolic sects are known for doctrines that trample on the rights of women and children.
A number of young girls have been married off to church leaders and prophets who claim to have been instructed to do so by the Holy Spirit. ACCZ president Archbishop Johannes Ndanga said the conference aimed at setting priorities for youths particularly the girl child with a particular focus towards curbing child marriages and other forms of child abuse.
Archbishop Ndanga said by setting priorities for the youth, authorities would be informed on the needs of children that should be satisfied first before they graduate into adulthood. He said failure by authorities to meet children’s priorities remained one of the factors exposing children to abuse and eventually child marriages.
The ACCZ leader said the conference aimed to come up with recommendations to governments on issues that should be addressed first in order to curb abuse of children. Archbishop Ndanga revealed that the idea to hold the conference came about at the 61st Session on the Commission on the Status of Women that was recently held in New York, USA. He said after his council’s presentation at the Commission on the Status of Women, there was a general consensus more needed to be done to improve the status of women and children in developing countries.
The ACCZ president said among some of the countries that have agreed to participate at the conference were the USA and Mexico, while most African countries would be represented. ACCZ has been on the forefront of promoting the rights of children and women in apostolic and Zion churches. Recently ACCZ established a Gender and Child Care Unit to ensure the protection of women’s and children’s rights as envisioned in the country’s Constitution.