Mashonaland Central Has Highest Number of Girls Married Before the Age of 15

A preliminary 2022 Census Report on Fertility has shown that the prevalence of teen pregnancies was highest in Mashonaland Central province, leading to spike in early child marriages in the province.

By Michael Gwarisa

According to the Zimbabwe Statistical Agency 2022 report, the proportion of women age 20-24 years who were married before the age of 15 years by province was  2.2 percent for Mashonaland Central province, 1.7 percent for Manicaland province and 0.3 percent for Matabeleland South province.

The province also recorded the highest number for women age 20-24 years who were married before the age of 18 years. The proportion was highest, standing at 28.9 percent and 22.8 percent in Mashonaland Central and Mashonaland West provinces respectively, it was comparatively lower, standing at 2.6 percent and 7.7 percent in Bulawayo and Harare metropolitan provinces.

Child marriage is widely recognised as a violation of children’s rights and is also a direct form of discrimination against the girl child. Data shows that 133,455 women aged 20 –24 years, representing 16.2 percent of the total, were in union before attaining the age of 18 years. The proportion was higher, at 22.7 percent in rural areas as compared to 7.2 percent in urban areas,” said Zimstat.

In terms of Crude Birth Rate (CBR) which refers to the number of births per 1,000 population in a given period, which is usually a year, Mashonaland Central had the highest with an estimate of 32.7 and 21.6.  The CBR for Zimbabwe estimated using the direct method, was 28.7 births per one thousand populations. Fertility levels at national level mask some important spatial, and at times, temporal variations in fertility within the country itself or among provinces.

The General Fertility Rate (GFR) is the simplest fertility measure that tries to relate the births to the population, which is at risk of giving birth. The GFR for Zimbabwe was 114 births per 1 000 women of reproductive ages. The GFR ranged from 73 in Bulawayo  province to 137 in Mashonaland Central province.

Meanwhile, At national level, the median age at first live birth was 20 years. The median age at first live birth for rural women was higher, at 21 years as compared to 19 years for urban women. The median age at first live birth ranged from 19 years in four provinces (Matabeleland North, Matabeleland South, Mashonaland West, and Mashonaland Central) to 21 years in Harare and Bulawayo provinces.

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