The largest painting in Ethiopia, a 100-meter long work of art painted by 30 prominent Ethiopian artists, was commissioned by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to promote an end to early marriage.
The traveling art exhibition, called “Stop Early Marriage,” has been shown in Addis Ababa, Bahir Dar, Asosa, Mekele and Axum.The exhibition is part of a national campaign being held in three regions.
Abraham Gelaw UNFPA’s communication officer, told VOA, the painting is designed to sensitize the public to the negative consequences of early marriage and to get the attention of community and national leaders.“The art exhibitions have the main intention of advocating among policy and decision makers on the urgency to stop early marriage.”
In specific regions of Ethiopia and some areas of West Africa, some girls get married as early as age 7.
The average age of marriage in Ethiopia is 16.While early marriage has a high prevalence in Ethiopia, most countries have declared 18 as the minimum legal age of marriage.
Despite sanctions on child marriage, more than 100 million girls worldwide are expected to marry in the next decade, according to UNFPA’s report.
“UNFPA Ethiopia recognizes early marriage as one of the prevalent forms of gender-based violence in Ethiopia, with negative consequences on women’s and girls’ reproductive health, including maternal death, fistula, HIV and AIDS and other negative psycho-social problems,” said Abraham.
Studies show a correlation between girls’ education levels and age at marriage: Higher median age at first marriage directly correlates with higher rates of girls in school. Conversely, getting and keeping girls in school may be one of the ways to foster later, chosen marriage.