Queen Mathilde undertook on a two-day visit to Ghana last week. After the trip had concluded, the Belgian Queen spoke to members of the press that had travelled alongside her, focusing on an emotional meeting she had with a child bride.
When asked what the most emotional and difficult moment of the trip was, she talked about her encounter with a young girl who was married aged 16.
A child bride talked to The Queen during the visit about her own experience, saying: “My parents didn’t want to give me money to feed myself. So I took a boyfriend and got pregnant. (…) They advised me to stay in school while I was pregnant, to continue my education.”
Queen Mathilde later said about the meeting: “It was very emotional to listen to the girl. It was so difficult. Have you seen it?
“She didn’t smile; there was no joy. I thought her testimony was very difficult. I have a daughter of the same age, 16 years old. It’s really an important problem here in Ghana. But what is important is that people are starting to talk about it.”
Child brides are still a huge issue in Ghana with one in five girls getting married before the age of 18.
Queen Mathilde was in Ghana for her work with the United Nations. Her Majesty is an advocate for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) of the UN. The Queen was there to see first hand how the West-African country is adopting the goals.
After her visit, Belgian National television station, VRT, spoke to Her Majesty about her experiences in Ghana. The Queen talked about how important it is to talk with children about these issues, saying: “I talk a lot about what I am doing with my children as well as with my husband. The SDG’s are everywhere. And everyone is responsible for a better future for the coming generations.”
The Queen also gave a speech at the University of Ghana in which she also talked about the importance of raising awareness around children and youth. She said: “You, young people in the audience today will be the leaders of tomorrow. Every effort counts. How will you use your skills now and tomorrow to make the world a better place?”