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Ghana

Child marriage rates
UNICEF 2017 % Married by 15
5%
UNICEF 2017 % 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 (UNICEF State of the World’s Children, 2017)

Photo credit: US Army Corps | Jennifer Aldridge

Child marriage rates
UNICEF 2017 % Married by 15
5%
UNICEF 2017 % 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 (UNICEF State of the World’s Children, 2017)

What's the child marriage rate? How big of an issue is child marriage?

More than one in every five girls in Ghana is married before the age of 18 and 5% are married before their 15th birthday.

Women in the northern region marry at the youngest age.

It is difficult to track child marriage in Ghana due to an absence of birth certificates in some areas and difficulty in proving if a girl is underage.

Are there country-specific drivers of child marriage in this country?

Child marriage is driven by gender inequality and the belief that girls are somehow inferior to boys. In Ghana, child marriage is also driven by:

  • Traditional customs: Betrothal, elopement and abduction are forms of cultural marriages still existing in parts of Ghana, including Wa West, Lambussie, Karni and Sissala districts. Trokosi – a system of ritual enslavement whereby young virgin girls are given as payment in religious atonement – still occurs in parts of the Volta region.
  • Gender norms: 60% of women in Ghana believe that a husband is justified in beating them under certain circumstances, demonstrating deeply-ingrained power dynamics. Some men reportedly prefer to marry young girls as they are easier to control.
  • Migration: Rural-urban migration of girls makes them vulnerable to city men who take advantage of their economic situation and marry them. This is particularly common in Sissala East District, Wa West and Wa East.
  • Peer pressure: Some girls reportedly encourage their friends to engage in pre-marital sex and “boast” about their marriages which encourages other girls to marry early.
  • Female Genital Mutilation and Cutting (FGM/C): FGM/C is still used to control a perceived high libido of girls and to curb shameful behaviour. Puberty rites ceremonies are popular among Dipo, Krobo and Bragoro ethnic groups and sometimes symbolise a girl’s readiness for marriage.

What has this country committed to?

Ghana has committed to eliminate child, early and forced marriage by 2030 in line with target 5.3 of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Ghana co-sponsored the 2017 Human Rights Council resolution recognising the need to address child, early and forced marriage in humanitarian contexts, and the 2015 Human Rights Council resolution to end child, early and forced marriage, recognising that it is a violation of human rights.

Ghana co-sponsored the 2013 and 2014 UN General Assembly resolutions on child, early and forced marriage, and the 2013 Human Rights Council resolution on child, early and forced marriage. In 2014, Ghana signed a joint statement at the Human Rights Council calling for a resolution on child marriage.

Ghana ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1990, which sets a minimum age of marriage of 18, and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in 1986, which obligates states to ensure free and full consent to 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.

In 2005 Ghana ratified the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, including Article 21 regarding the prohibition of child marriage.

In 2007 Ghana ratified the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, including Article 6 which sets the minimum age for marriage as 18.

As a member of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Ghana has adopted the Strategic Framework for Strengthening National Child Protection Systems under which protecting children from marriage is a priority.

During its 2017 Universal Periodic Review, Ghana supported recommendations to strengthen policies aimed at ending harmful practices, including child marriage.

At the Girl Summit in July 2014, the government signed a charter committing to end child marriage by 2020.

What is the government doing to address this at the national level?

A multi-stakeholder Ending Child Marriage Unit and Advisory Committee on Ending Child Marriage has been established 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.

The Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection has also released a resource guide on ending child marriage in Ghana and is planning an Adolescent Summit in 2018.

In February 2016, the government launched a National Campaign to End Child Marriage as part of the African Union Campaign to End Child Marriage in Africa. On the African Union Day of the African Child, the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection celebrated with a national commemoration in the Volga region on the theme: “Ending child marriage in Ghana through strengthening of family and community structure”.

Ghana’s Common on Human Rights and Administrative Justice has signed up to the Kigali Declaration on Child, Early and Forced Marriage, whereby National Human Rights Institutions specifically declare and commit to concrete action on preventing child marriage.

What is the minimum legal framework around marriage?

Under the Children’s Act 1998 the minimum legal age of marriage in Ghana is 18 years with no exceptions.

Source

African Commission on Human and People’s Rights, African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, [website], 2018, (accessed February 2018)

African Commission on Human and People’s Rights, Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, [website], 2018, (accessed February 2018)

African Union, Campaign to End Child Marriage in Africa: Call to Action, 2013, (accessed February 2018)

Ghana Statistical Service, Ghana Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey with an Enhanced Malaria Module, 2011, (accessed April 2018)

Ghana Statistical Service, Ghana Health Service and ICF International, Ghana Demographic and Health Survey, 2015, (accessed April 2018)

Government of Ghana, Child and Family Welfare Policy, [website], 2018, (accessed April 2018)

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, Joint statement on child, early and forced marriage, HRC 27, Agenda Item 3, [website], 2014, (accessed April 2018)

Osei-Adu, D., Puberty Rites, [website], 2018, (accessed April 2018)

Population Council and UNFPA, SITUATIONAL ANALYSIS OF ADOLESCENT GIRLS AND YOUNG WOMEN IN GHANA – Synthesizing Data to Identify and Work with the Most Vulnerable Young Women, 2016, (accessed April 2018)

Plan Ghana, The changing face of early and forced marriages of girls in the upper west region Ghana, 2014, [unpublished]

The Commonwealth, Kigali Declaration: Moving from aspiration to action to prevent and eliminate child, early and forced marriage in the Commonwealth, (accessed April 2018)

UNICEF-UNFPA, Global Programme to Accelerate Action to End Child Marriage, 2017,(accessed February 2018)

UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division, World Population Prospects: The 2015 revision, 2015, (accessed April 2018)

UN General Assembly, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Ghana, 2017, p.14, (accessed April 2018)

United Nations, Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform, [website], 2017, (accessed February 2018)

* Child marriage prevalence is the percentage of women 20-24 years old who were married or in union before they were 18 years old (UNICEF State of the World’s Children, 2017)

National Partnership in Ghana

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

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Members In Ghana