Child marriage by 15
Child marriage by 18
Other key stats
|Are there Girls Not Brides members?||7|
|Does this country have a national strategy or plan?||No|
|Is there a Girls Not Brides National Partnership or coalition?||No|
|Age of marriage without consent or exceptions taken into account||Legal age of marriage - 18 years, no exceptions|
What's the prevalence rate?
What drives child marriage in Gambia?
Child marriage is driven by gender inequality and the belief that women and girls are somehow inferior to men and boys.
In The Gambia, child marriage is also driven by:
Level of education: Girls without education tend to marry at a younger age than those who have completed primary or secondary school.
Poverty: Girls from The Gambia’s poorest households are more likely to marry as children. Prospective husbands often give their parents money or jewellery or make promises, such as sending them to Mecca, in order to secure marriages.
Pre-marital sex: Some parents reportedly marry off their daughters in order to avoid them becoming pregnant before marriage. Child marriage is also commonly perceived to offer some form of child protection in that it prevents girls from being propelled into sex work.
Gender norms: Child marriage is generally considered a positive part of life and tradition in society, which is perceived to prepare girls for life.
What international, regional and national commitments has Gambia made?
The Gambia has committed to eliminate child, early and forced marriage by 2030 in line with target 5.3 of the Sustainable Development Goals.
The Gambia co-sponsored the 2019 Human Rights Council resolution on the consequences of child marriage, and the 2018 UN General Assembly resolutions on child, early and forced marriage. In 2014, The Gambia signed a joint statement at the Human Rights Council calling for a resolution on child marriage.
The Gambia 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 1993, which obligates states to ensure free and full consent to marriage.
During its 2014 Universal Periodic Review, The Gambia agreed to examine recommendations to enact laws prohibiting child marriage and to raise the minimum age of marriage to 18. During its 2019 Universal Periodic Review, The Gambia supported recommendations to strengthen efforts to fully implement the existing legislation aimed at preventing child marriages, and undertake awareness-raising campaigns, in particular among traditional and religious leaders.
In 2000 The Gambia ratified the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, including Article 21 regarding the prohibition of child marriage. In 2005 The Gambia 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.
In 2016 Gambia launched the African Union Campaign to End Child Marriage in Africa.
As a member of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), in 2017 The Gambia adopted the Strategic Framework for Strengthening National Child Protection Systems under which protecting children from marriage is a priority. In June 2019, the ECOWAS Heads of State endorsed the ECOWAS Child Policy and Strategic Action Plan and the 2019-2030 Roadmap on prevention and response to child marriage.
In addition, in July 2019, the ECOWAS First Ladies signed “The Niamey Declaration: Call to End Child Marriage and to promote the Education and empowerment of Girls”, calling Member States to initiate legislative, institutional and budgetary reforms to implement the Roadmap.
The Gambia is a partner country of the Global Partnership for Education (GPE).
What is the government doing to address child marriage?
On 16 June 2016, The Gambia launched the African Union campaign to end child marriage in Africa. The government also declared June 2016 as “the month on ending child marriage” and organised a nation-wide sensitisation campaign under the leadership of the First Lady Madam Zineb Jammeh.
With support from UNICEF, the Gambian Women’s Bureau has been working closely with Tostan, an international NGO, to engage communities through the Community Empowerment Programme (CEP). The CEP empowers girls so they can make their own decisions and supports community members to take a more active role in ending child marriage and other harmful traditional practices.
What is the minimum legal framework around marriage?
In July 2016, the Children’s (Amendment) Act was enacted, which prohibited child marriage and establishes the minimum age for marriage as 18 years.
However, there is no minimum age of marriage under Islamic Sharia law, which is the dominant tradition governing family law in The Gambia.
We have 7 members in Gambia
Content featuring Gambia
Addressing child marriage through education: What the evidence shows
The brief examines what works to address child marriage through education. It highlights barriers to girls' education and recommends strategies to address them.
The Dakar Call to Action
The Dakar Call to Action was adopted at the West & Central Africa High-Level Meeting in Dakar from 23-25 October 2017. It calls on governments to address child marriage.
Child marriage in West & Central Africa
This brief provides an overview of child marriage in West and Central Africa and includes recommendations on how to address it.
Girls' education and child marriage in West and Central Africa
The report documents girls’ educational attainment and child marriage in the region, factors that lead girls to marry or leave school early, and the impact on development.
- African Commission on Human and People’s Rights, African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, [website], 2018, https://www.achpr.org/legalinstruments/detail?id=46 (accessed January 2020).
- 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, https://au.int/en/treaties/protocol-african-charter-human-and-peoples-rights-rights-women-africa (accessed January 2020).
- African Union, Campaign to End Child Marriage in Africa: Call to Action, 2013, https://au.int/sites/default/files/pages/32905-file-campaign_to_end_child_marriage_in_africa_call_for_action-_english.pdf (accessed February 2020).
- BBC News, Gambia and Tanzania outlaw child marriage, [website], 2016, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-36746174 (accessed February 2020).
- Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, Child Marriage in Africa, 2018, https://www.researchgate.net/publication/331260673_'Child_marriage_in_The_Gambia'_as_part_of_the_Child_Marriage_in_Africa_study (accessed February 2020).
- ECOWAS, ECOWAS First Ladies affirm Commitment to End Child Marriage and Promote Girl-Child Education in the Region, [website], 2019, https://www.ecowas.int/ecowas-first-ladies-affirm-commitment-to-end-child-marriage-and-promote-girl-child-education-in-the-region/ (accessed February 2020).
- ECOWAS, Final Communique. Fifty-fifth Ordinary Session of the Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government, 2019, https://www.ecowas.int/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/Final-Communiqué_55th-Summit_Abuja_29-June-2019-1.pdf (accessed February 2020).
- Global Partnership for Education, The Gambia, [website], https://www.globalpartnership.org/where-we-work/the-gambia (accessed February 2020).
- Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, Joint statement on child, early and forced marriage, HRC 27, Agenda Item 3, [website], 2014, http://fngeneve.um.dk/en/aboutus/statements/newsdisplaypage/?newsid=6371ad93-8fb0-4c35-b186-820fa996d379 (accessed February 2020).
- The Gambia Bureau of Statistics and ICF International, The Gambia Demographic and Health Survey 2013, 2014, https://dhsprogram.com/pubs/pdf/FR289/FR289.pdf (accessed February 2020).
- UN General Assembly, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review, Gambia, 2019, p.18, https://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/Pages/GMindex.aspx (accessed February 2020).
- UN General Assembly, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review, Gambia, 2014, p. 13, 16, 21, https://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/Pages/GMindex.aspx (accessed February 2020).
- UNICEF Gambia, Breaking the cycle – ending child marriage, [website], 2014, https://www.unicef.org/gambia/reallives_8682.html (accessed February 2020).
- United Nations, Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform, [website], 2017, https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdg5 (accessed February 2020).