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Mali

Child marriage rates
UNICEF 2017 % Married by 15
17%
UNICEF 2017 % Married by 18
52%
International Ranking*

5

* 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: APSEF

Child marriage rates
UNICEF 2017 % Married by 15
17%
UNICEF 2017 % Married by 18
52%
International Ranking*

5

* 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?

52% of girls in Mali are married before the age of 18 and 17% are married before their 15th birthday.

According to UNICEF, Mali has the sixth highest prevalence rate of child marriage in the world.

Child marriage is most common in Kayes (where 66% of women aged 20-49 were married before the age of 18), Koulikoro (58%) and Gao (56%).

A 2017 World Bank study estimates that ending child marriage in Mali could result in USD174.8 million productivity gains.

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 Mali, child marriage is also driven by:

  • Poverty: Mali is one of the poorest countries in the world. 51% of women in its poorest households were married before the age of 18, compared to only 36% in the richest households. Some parents marry off their daughters at a young age to give them a better life, reduce their perceived economic burden and because they can demand a higher bride price. This practice continues promoting the belief that girls are the property of their husbands.
  • Armed conflict: A surge in conflict in Gao, Timbuktu and Kidal in 2012 destabilised Mali and had a huge impact on girls. Many were victims of rape and forced marriage by terrorists and armed groups, with some cases of sexual slavery reported by the UN.
  • Level of education: 50% of women who completed primary education were married before the age of 18, compared to only 18% who had completed the second cycle of secondary education.
  • Female Genital Mutilation and Cutting (FGM/C): FGM/C is practiced by Muslim, Christian and Animist communities in Mali, and is sometimes considered a symbol of a girl’s readiness for marriage.
  • Polygamy: Child brides in Mali are often likely to be a second, third or fourth bride, and are perceived to be more submissive and easier to control.

What has this country committed to?

Mali has committed to eliminate child, early and forced marriage by 2030 in line with target 5.3 of the Sustainable Development Goals. However the government did not report on progress made against target 5.3 during its 2018 Voluntary National Review at the High Level Political Forum, the mechanism through which countries report their progress on the Sustainable Development Goals.

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

Mali 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 1985, which obligates states to ensure free and full consent to marriage.

In 1998 Mali ratified the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, including Article 21 regarding the prohibition of child marriage.

In 2005 Mali 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), Mali has adopted the Strategic Framework for Strengthening National Child Protection Systems under which protecting children from marriage is a priority.

In 2017 the CEDAW Committee raised concerns about child marriages committed by extremist groups and members of the military in Mali, and the resulting impunity for perpetrators.

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

In 2015, as part of the African Union Campaign to End Child Marriage in Africa, Mali launched its national campaign titled “Education for girls: a means to eliminating early child marriage”. The campaign is spearheaded by the First Lady and emphasises the need to keep girls in school to tackle child marriage.

A National Committee to coordinate and monitor the actions and commitments of the African Union Campaign was formed in June 2017.

In January 2017 the First Lady Keïta Aminata Maïga hosted a meeting on adolescent and youth sexual and reproductive health at the high level France-Africa summit in Bamako.

In April 2017 UNICEF commissioned a national holistic communications strategy on gender based violence, including child marriage, with a capacity building component for different stakeholders.

Save the Children, in partnership with Oxfam, is implementing five year project on child marriage under the “More Than Brides Alliance”.

What is the minimum legal framework around marriage?

Under the Code of Persons and the Family 2011, the minimum legal age of marriage in Malawi is 16 years for girls and 18 years for boys. However individuals older than 15 years old can marry with the authorisation of the “Chief de Circonscription Administrative” and parental consent.

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)

Ford Foundation, Mapping Early Marriage in West Africa, 2013, (accessed April 2018)

Global Protection Cluster, Justice for children in humanitarian action: Impact of the armed conflict in Mali, 2016, (accessed April 2018)

Institut national de la statistique, Enquete par grappes a indicateurs multiples au Mali (MICS-Mali), 2015, Rapport Final, 2016, (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)

Population Council, Child marriage briefing, 2004, (accessed June 2018)

UNICEF, Annual report 2016 Mali, 2017, (accessed June 2018)

UN General Assembly, Compilation on Mali Report of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, 2017, p.8, (accessed April 2018)

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

United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali, Impact of the crisis on the women of Mali, [undated], (accessed April 2018)

Wetheridge L., and Antonowicz, L., Plan WARO, Child Marriage in West Africa and Cameroon, 2014, (accessed April 2018)

Women in Law and Development in Africa, Lutter contre les mariages précoces par l’autonomisation des filles au Mali, 2017, (accessed April 2018)

World Bank, Economic Impacts of Child Marriage: Work, Earnings and Household Welfare Brief, 2017, (accessed April 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)