Child marriage around the world:

Ghana

Child marriage rates
UNICEF 2016 % Married by 15
5%
UNICEF 2016 % Married by 18
21%

* References

* Child marriage prevalence is the percentage of women 20-24 years old who were married or in union before they were 18 years old.

* According to UNICEF’s State of the World’s Children 2016.

Photo credit: US Army Corps | Jennifer Aldridge

Child marriage rates
UNICEF 2016 % Married by 15
5%
UNICEF 2016 % Married by 18
21%

* References

* Child marriage prevalence is the percentage of women 20-24 years old who were married or in union before they were 18 years old.

* According to UNICEF’s State of the World’s Children 2016.

21% of girls in Ghana are married before they are 18 [1], but rates can be as high as 39% in the northern part of the country [2].

There has been a growing interest on child marriage in Ghana from all actors, including civil society organisations, the government and the donors. Recent data shows that the practice is slowly decreasing. 1 in 5 young women today were married before 18, compared to 1 in 3 in the early 1990s [3]

Drivers

Child marriage in Ghana is deeply rooted in tradition and discriminatory gender norms. WiLDAF Ghana found that parents’ decision to marry off their daughter was often driven by their concern with female sexuality and family honour, in particular the fear that their daughter may become pregnant out of wedlock [4].

Adolescent pregnancy is also a driver and consequence of child marriage. 14% of girls aged 15-19 in Ghana have begun having children [5].

Poverty exacerbates the problem of child marriage. 41.2% of girls from the poorest families are married before 18, as opposed to only 11.5% of girls from the richest families [6]. The high bride price received for young girls in Ghana means that families often see child marriage as a survival strategy.

Finally, a lack of access to education drives child marriage: 41.6% of women with no education were married before 18, compared to 4.7% of women with secondary education [7].

Legal age of marriage

In Ghana, the legal age of marriage is 18 for both girls and boys. However, they can marry as young as 16 with the consent of their parent.

Initiatives to address child marriage

An Ending Child Marriage Unit was set up in 2014, spearheaded by the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection. In May 2017 the Ministry launched the 2017 – 2026 National Strategic Framework on Ending Child Marriage in Ghana along with a two year work plan to roll out the strategy at national, regional and district levels.

In February 2016, the Government of Ghana launched a national campaign to end child marriage as part of the African Union’s regional campaign to end the practice in the region.

Ghana has been considerably active in leading child marriage work in the region with plans to take the lead in engaging the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on child marriage.

UNICEF-UNFPA Global Programme to Accelerate Action to End Child Marriage

Ghana is a focus country of the UNICEF-UNFPA Global Programme to Accelerate Action to End Child Marriage, a multi-donor, multi-stakeholder programme working across 12 countries over four years.

National Partnership in Ghana

Girls Not Brides Ghana is the official Girls Not Brides National Partnership in Ghana.

View their profile

Members In Ghana
Sources

[1] UNICEF, State of the World’s Children, 2016.

[2] Ghana, Demographic Health Survey, 2014.

[3] United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division, World Population Prospects: The 2015 Revision, 2015.

[4] Women in Law and Development in Africa (WiLDAF Ghana) Scoping study for Parliamentary Advocacy Programme on Combating Early and Forced Marriage in Ghana, March 2014

[5] Ghana, Demographic Health Survey, 2014.

[6] Ghana, MICS, 2011.

[7] UNFPA, Child marriage profile for Ghana, 2010.