40% of girls in sub-Saharan Africa are married before their 18
birthday. Child marriage not only deprives them of their childhood, health and education, it limits the potential of the entire continent. 15 out of the 20 countries with the highest rates of child marriage are in Africa.
In 2014, in an effort to improve the lives of millions of girls, the African Union launched its first Campaign to End Child Marriage in Africa. Originally planned over two years, the campaign has now been extended to run until at least 2017.
Why a campaign?
The campaign aims to speed up change across Africa by encouraging governments to develop strategies to raise awareness of and address the harmful impact of child marriage.
Specifically, it aims to:
- Determine the socio-economic impact of child marriage
- Promote the effective implementation of AU legal and policy instruments and support policy action
- Remove barriers and bottlenecks to law enforcement
- Increase the capacity of non-state actors to undertake evidence-based policy advocacy
Where has it been launched?
As of December 2017, twenty-two governments have launched the campaign. These include: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sudan, The Gambia, Uganda, and Zimbabwe.
Achievements so far
In June this year, AU Member States adopted an African Common Position on Ending Child Marriage, which urges States to establish comprehensive action plans to end child marriage, including establishing and enforcing laws which set the minimum age of marriage at 18.
The African Girls’ Summit
On 26-27 November, the African Union is hosting the African Girls’ Summit on Ending Child Marriage in Zambia.
A key moment for the Campaign, the Summit will bring together high-level personalities from AU Member States, African First Ladies, UN agencies, women and girls, and civil society organisations to share experiences and good practice, as well as securing and renewing commitments from governments.
Girls Not Brides and the AU Campaign
Girls Not Brides is a member of the campaign’s technical committee, providing technical and strategic support.
The secretariat works to ensure that Girls Not Brides members are aware of the latest campaign developments and are able to engage with the African Union and governments as partners in the implementation.
We encourage Girls Not Brides members in countries where the campaign has been launched to reach out to their governments to ensure the campaign’s goals are achieved in partnership with civil society.
In the time it has taken to read this article 25 girls under the age of 18 have been married
Each year, 12 million girls are married before the age of 18
That is 23 girls every minute
Nearly 1 every 2 seconds