Child marriage by 15
Child marriage by 18
Other key stats
|Are there Girls Not Brides members?||84|
|Does this country have a national strategy or plan?||Yes|
|Is there a Girls Not Brides National Partnership or coalition?||Yes|
|Age of marriage without consent or exceptions taken into account||Legal age of marriage - 18 years, no exceptions|
What's the prevalence rate?
More than one in every five girls in Ghana is married before the age of 18 and 5% are married before their 15th birthday.
2% of Ghanaian boys are married before the age of 18.
Women in the northern region marry at the youngest age.
Although UNICEF and UNFPA have reported a decline in child marriage rates in Ghana, it is difficult to track due to an absence of birth certificates in some areas and difficulty in proving if a girl is underage.
What drives child marriage in Ghana?
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:
Poverty: Parents’ inability to provide for their children has been found to be linked to child marriage. The marriage of a girl is seen as a good option to support the entire family as the dowry obtained from the marriage can be used to feed or send other children to school.
Level of education: With limited alternatives, out of school girls are particularly vulnerable to child marriage.
Harmful traditional practices: 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.
Adolescent pregnancy:18% of Ghanaian girls aged 15-19 have had a child or are pregnant. Pregnancy out of wedlock, including as a result of transactional sex, is considered a major reason to initiate a child marriage in order to preserve the respectability and honour of the family.
Migration: Rural-urban migration of girls makes them vulnerable to men living in urban areas 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 may encourage 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 international, regional and national commitments has Ghana made?
Ghana has committed to eliminate child, early and forced marriage by 2030 in line with target 5.3 of the Sustainable Development Goals. During its Voluntary National Review at the 2019 High Level Political Forum, the government reported progress on this target and provided information about measures taken to end child marriage, including the adoption of a comprehensive national framework and a national strategic framework on ending child marriage, as well as other national policies for accelerating progress on gender equality and women and girls’ empowerment.
Ghana co-sponsored the following Human Rights Council resolutions: the 2013 procedural resolution on child, early and forced marriage, the 2015 resolution on child, early and forced marriage, the 2017 resolution on recognising the need to address child, early and forced marriage in humanitarian contexts, and the 2019 resolution on the consequences of child marriage. In 2014, Ghana also signed a joint statement at the Human Rights Council calling for a resolution on child marriage.
Ghana co-sponsored the 2013, 2014 and 2018 UN General Assembly resolutions on child, early and forced 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.
During its 2017 Universal Periodic Review, Ghana supported recommendations to strengthen policies aimed at ending harmful practices, including child marriage.
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.
At the London Girl Summit in July 2014, the government signed a charter committing to end child marriage by 2020.
As a member of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), in 2017 Ghana 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.
Ghana is a partner country of the Global Partnership for Education (GPE).
What is the government doing to address child 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 2018, the Global Programme reached 753,810 people with sensitisation activities at the community level which improved awareness of the dangers of child marriage to girls.
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.
In 2018, the government allocated 3% of its recurrent budget to the coordination and implementation of the National Strategic Framework on Ending Child Marriage, a budget allocation which is expected to be replicated over the 2019–2022 period.
The Child Marriage Unit has developed an online platform to support and engage civil society organisations to work within the National Strategic Framework. The Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection has also released a resource guide on ending child marriage in Ghana.
In November 2018, Ghana hosted the Second African Girls’ Summit in Accra, in partnership with the African Union Commission. The government and partners critically appraised the progress, learning and achievements of the African Union Campaign to End Child Marriage over the last four years and advocated for increased cross-sectoral investments in adolescent girls.
In 2018, the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection launched a Five-year Strategic Plan to Address Adolescent Pregnancy in Ghana (2018 – 2022) with a view to ensuring that all Ghanaian adolescents are fully empowered to prevent early and unplanned pregnancies.
Ghana’s Commission 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.
Ghana is one of 11 countries working to create child marriage-free communities by 2020 as part of the Her Choice Alliance. Partners of the Her Choice Alliance have reported that, thanks to governmental efforts and the favourable environment towards ending child marriage in Ghana, an increasing number of organisations are working on the field and providing education on child marriage and related issues.
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 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”.
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.
National Partnerships and Coalitions in Ghana
In this country we have a national partnership. Many Girls Not Brides member organisations have come together to accelerate progress to end child marriage in their countries by forming National Partnerships and coalitions. Below is an overview of what and where these networks are, what they do and how they work with Girls Not Brides.
We have 84 members in Ghana
You can help girls in Ghana by donating to our member's campaigns
Protect 5,000 girls from child marriage in GhanaDonate via GlobalGiving
Help us purchase learning materials to keep our school runningDonate via GivingWay
Content featuring Ghana
CRANK Research Spotlight: Successful multisectoral and multilevel approaches to address child marriage
Brief summarising the latest research and evidence, with key takeaways from featured studies, and highlighting current evidence and funding gaps. It also includes tools for practitioners to strengthen design and…
The Power of Collective Action
This set of case studies tells six stories of how collective working can create meaningful changes in the lives of girls.
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.
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.
- 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).
- Children’s Act, 1998, http://www.unesco.org/education/edurights/media/docs/f7a7a002205e07fbf119bc00c8bd3208a438b37f.pdf (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).
- Ghana Statistical Service, Ghana Health Service and ICF International, Ghana Demographic and Health Survey, 2015, https://dhsprogram.com/pubs/pdf/FR307/FR307.pdf (accessed February 2020).
- Ghana Statistical Service, Ghana Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey with an Enhanced Malaria Module, 2011, https://mics-surveys-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/MICS4/West%20and%20Central%20Africa/Ghana/2011/Final/Ghana%202011%20MICS_English.pdf (accessed February 2020).
- Global Partnership for Education, Ghana, [website], https://www.globalpartnership.org/where-we-work/ghana (accessed February 2020).
- Ineeds, Freeing Trokosi Slave Girls, [website], https://ineeds.org.uk/projects/freeing-the-trokosi-slave-girls/ (accessed April 2020).
- Her Choice, Annual Progress Report 2018, 2019, http://www.her-choice.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/HER-CHOICE-Annual-Progress-Report-2018.pdf (accessed January 2020).
- Her Choice, Programme, [website], http://www.her-choice.org/en/her-choice/programme/ (accessed January 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 January 2020).
- Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Five-year Strategic Plan to Address Adolescent Pregnancy in Ghana (2018 – 2022), 2018, https://ghana.unfpa.org/sites/default/files/pub-pdf/Adolescent%20Pregnancy%20Strategic%20Plan%202018.pdf (accessed January 2020).
- Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, NATIONAL STRATEGIC FRAMEWORK ON ENDING CHILD MARRIAGE IN GHANA 2017 – 2026, https://www.girlsnotbrides.org/learning-resources/resource-centre/national-strategic-framework-ending-child-marriage-ghana-2017-2026/ (accessed January 2020).
- Osei-Adu, D., Puberty Rites, [website], 2018, http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/tribes/puberty_rites.php (accessed January 2020).
- Plan Ghana, The changing face of early and forced marriages of girls in the upper west region Ghana, 2014, [unpublished]
- 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, https://www.girlsnotbrides.org/2017/03/PopCouncil-UNFPA-InDepth-Situation-Analysis-Child-Marriage-Final-Report (accessed February 2020).
- Republic of Ghana, Voluntary National Review Report on the Implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, 2019, p. 42, https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/content/documents/23420VNR_Report_Ghana_Final_print.pdf (accessed February 2020).
- The Commonwealth, Kigali Declaration: Moving from aspiration to action to prevent and eliminate child, early and forced marriage in the Commonwealth, http://thecommonwealth.org/sites/default/files/press-release/documents/Early%20and%20Forced%20Marriage%20-%20Kigali%20Declaration.pdf (accessed February 2020).
- UN General Assembly, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Ghana, 2017, p.14, http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/Pages/GHIndex.aspx (accessed February 2020).
- UNICEF Ghana, Assessment of Strategies and Approaches to Address Child Marriage in Ghana. Learning Brief, 2017, https://www.unicef.org/ghana/media/2486/file/Ending%20Child%20Marriage%20-%20Assessment.pdf (accessed February 2020).
- UNICEF-UNFPA, 2018 Annual Report Country Profiles, 2019, https://www.unicef.org/media/60281/file (accessed February 2020).
- UNICEF-UNFPA, Global Programme to Accelerate Action to End Child Marriage, 2017, https://www.unicef.org/protection/57929_92681.html (accessed February 2020).
- United Nations, Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform, [website], 2017, https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdg5 (accessed February 2020).
- World Bank, Teenage mothers (% of women ages 15-19 who have had children or are currently pregnant), [website], https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SP.MTR.1519.ZS (accessed February 2020).