To mark Universal Children’s Day, Girls Not Brides members Adam Abakar Kakaye from AJAC (Chad) and Billé Siké from ALVF (Cameroon) were interviewed for the Radio France International programme ‘7 billion neighbours’ (7 milliards de voisins) (Click here to listen)
Adam and Billé work directly in areas where rates of child marriage are high, yet both share the conviction that communities can be persuaded to abandon the practice.
As a teacher, Adam works everyday to dissuade fathers in particular from marrying off their daughters at a young age. “I told a father that his daughter was brilliant and encouraged him to let her finish her studies,” explains Adam. “She has since finished her Baccalaureate and is now in college.”
Billé tells of the long journey that civil society organisations have had to take to address child marriage. Formerly a taboo topic, “now [child marriage] is even talked about on the television”, she recounts.
Bille campaigns across Cameroon and pressures the government to put in place strategies to address child marriage. She also thinks it is important to mobilise the education community, victims of child marriage and their parents to take a stand against the practice, but concedes that child marriage will take a long time to bring to an end: “A change in mentality is not something that happens straightaway,” says Bille. “It is after 10 or 12 years that we will start to see results.”
Listen to the full interview (French): Journée Mondiale droits des enfants : Sécurité, bien-être et accès à l’école
In the time it has taken to read this article 15 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 3 seconds