Ghana launches African Union campaign to end child marriage

Photo credit: US Army Corps | Jennifer Aldridge

The Government of Ghana has launched a national campaign to end child marriage, a practice that affects 1 in 5 girls in the country.

Nana Oye Lithur, Ghana’s Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection, announced the initiative at the 7th African Conference of First Ladies on Sexual Health and Reproductive Rights held yesterday in Accra.

With this campaign, the Government reiterates its commitment to end child marriage and joins a growing list of African countries taking part in the African Union’s campaign to end child marriage.

Ghana’s First Lady, Her Excellency Lordina Mahama, called on African First Ladies to continue educating and advocating for girls’ empowerment, and stressed the importance of traditional leaders in tackling child marriage.

The Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection also launched a social media campaign with the hashtag #GhanaEndsChildMarriage.

Key facts: child marriage in Ghana

  • According to UNICEF, 21% of girls in Ghana are married before their 18th. [1]
  • However, child marriage rates vary greatly between regions and can be as high as 39% in the northern part of the country, but only 12% in Greater Accra. [2]
  • The legal age of marriage is 18 for both boys and girls. However, they can marry as young as 16 with the consent of their parents.

How is the government addressing child marriage in Ghana?

  • An Ending Child Marriage Unit was set up in 2014. Spearheaded by the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, the unit seeks to promote and coordinate national initiatives aimed at ending child marriage in Ghana.
  • In 2015, the Ministry initiated a High-Level National Advisory Committee providing strategic guidance on addressing child marriage, and a National Stakeholders Working Group bringing together civil society, government authorities and development partners working on the issue.
  • The Ministry is currently working with UNICEF to develop a three-year national strategic framework to end child marriage. The strategy is due to be completed later this year.

Sources:

[1] UNICEF, State of the World’s Children, 2015.

[2] Ghana Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey, 2011.