PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia has launched a national plan to address the causes behind underage marriage in an effort to curb the problem at the grassroots level.
The National Strategic Plan to Address the Causes of Underage Marriage was launched on Thursday (Jan 16) by Deputy Prime Minister Wan Azizah Wan Ismail.
She said the plan encompasses seven objectives, 17 strategies and 58 programmes to address these causes in the next five years.
Dr Wan Azizah, who is also the Minister of Women, Family and Community Development, said the government had identified six major causes of underage marriage.
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Among these causes are poverty, lack or no access to reproductive health education, lack of access to education and society's perception that marriage is the best choice to solve problems.
"We believe that if these causes can be addressed, then the problem of underage marriages can be prevented in the future.
“These causes will be addressed through policy changes, to amend the relevant laws and the implementation of awareness programmes and activities,” she said, adding that 61 agencies would be involved as implementing agencies for the short, medium and long-term programmes.
She added that the programmes were formulated to strengthen support to the existing socio-economic and “outreach” programmes, as well as to provide friendly reproductive health services for children and teenagers.
The programmes will also offer Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET), she said.
Dr Wan Azizah said a steering committee, comprised all the implementing agencies, has been set up to oversee the implementation and development of the programmes under the plan.
“It (the committee) serves as a platform for the implementing agencies to report on the status, issues and challenges as well as suggestions for improvements for each programme that is being implemented, and it will take effect throughout the duration of implementation of the plan until its completion in 2025,” she said.