ZAMBOANGA CITY — Seven young mothers from Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur were tapped to share their experiences during the commemoration of the International Day of the Girl, which had the theme “Ending Child Marriage” in the Bangsamoro region last Friday, October 16.
Bangsamoro Women Commission (BWC) Chairperson Bainon Karon said the activity was aimed at advancing the welfare of young girls in the region.
Karon said the event was also aimed at strengthening adolescent girls’ participation in decision-making processes, especially in crafting government policies that address child marriage issues in the region.
According to Karon one of the young mothers from Maguindanao, Sariya, 26, was forced by her parents to marry at the age of 15.
Sariya admitted that it was not easy to become a young mother, “especially when you are not physically and emotionally prepared”.
“Mahirap pong mamuhay sa mga panahong iyon, dahil nga po hindi pa po handa, pero ngayon kinakaya po para sa mga anak ko (It’s hard to live in these times because I was really not ready. But I have learned to deal with it for the sake of my children),” Sariya said.
With her experience, Sariya encouraged the youth to focus on their education first, and secure a stable job, as much as possible, before entering married life.
According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), early marriage undermines child rights, and derails future opportunities to include physical and mental abuse, and health risks for both mother and child.
Meanwhile, Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindana (BARMM) Executive Secretary Abdulraof Macacua said the Bangsamoro government was reaffirming its commitment to promote the welfare of young girls, and ensure that they are protected at all times, especially in these trying times of pandemic.
“As we transition towards change, we should also be preparing the future leaders of the Bangsamoro,” Macacua added.
Karon said the BWC was committed at ensuring the promotion and protection of human rights of Bangsamoro women and girls, including issues concerning child early and forced marriage.