The Gambia kicks off its African Union campaign to end child marriage

  • Gambia becomes the 13th African nation to launch the campaign
  • Discussions on child marriage have already taken place among traditional leaders, children and at the National Assembly
Smiling coast teenagers, Banjul, Gambia. | Photo credit | Nacho Fradejas Garcia

On 16 June, Gambia launched a two-week campaign to end child marriage in the country. Under the leadership of the First lady of The Gambia, Mrs. Zineb Yahya Jammeh, the campaign aims to mobilise grassroots organisations nationwide and raise awareness of the risks of child marriage.

According to UNICEF, 36% of girls in the Gambia are married before the age of 18, and approximately 7% are married before 15. Gambia joins the growing list of countries to launch the African Union (AU) Campaign to End Child Marriage in Africa.

Efforts to end child marriage in the Gambia

The campaign launch was attended by the Director of Social Welfare, the African Union Goodwill Ambassador for the Campaign to End Child Marriage, the First Lady, and a member of the Children’s Parliament.

Gambia’s campaign includes a series of awareness raising activities on the effects of child marriage, with the activities geared towards mobilising grassroots support for legislation to address child marriage.

On 23 June, members of the Gambian Parliament held a discussion with victims of child marriage at the National Assembly, during which the Deputy Speaker stated that ‘we have to use the integrated approach. All hands on deck to end child marriage’.

Earlier this month, traditional leaders expressed their support for the campaign and committed to addressing child marriage in their districts, stressing the importance of education for girls.

About the AU Campaign to End Child Marriage

Launched in May 2014, the AU Campaign to End Child Marriage aims to speed up change across Africa by encouraging governments to develop strategies to raise awareness of child marriage and address the harmful impact it has.

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

Originally planned over two years, the campaign has now been extended to run until at least 2017. Fourteen countries Burkina Faso, Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Ghana, Madagascar, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Sudan, The Gambia, Uganda, and Zimbabwe have launched the campaign so far, with more launches planned for later in the year and during 2017.