Child marriage by 15
Child marriage by 18
Other key stats
|Are there Girls Not Brides members?||No|
|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||Minimum legal age of marriage below 18 years|
What's the prevalence rate?
24% of girls in Guinea-Bissau are married before their 18th birthday and 6% are married before the age of 15.
2% of boys in Guinea-Bissau are married before the age of 18.
Child marriage is most prevalent in Gabu (where 67% of women aged 20-49 were married before the age of 18), Bafata (52%), Quinara (42%) and Tombali (41%).
Child marriage is much more common in rural parts of Guinea-Bissau.
What drives child marriage in Guinea-Bissau?
Child marriage is driven by gender inequality and the belief that women and girls are somehow inferior to men and boys.
In Guinea-Bissau, child marriage is exacerbated by:
Poverty: 45% of women living in Guinea-Bissau’s poorest households were married before the age of 18, compared to only 19% in the richest households.
Level of education: 54% of women with no education were married as children, compared to only 9% of women who had completed secondary education or higher.
Harmful traditional practices:Harmful practices such as Female Genital Mutilation and Cutting (FGM/C), sexual rituals and child marriage continue to take place in rural parts of Guinea-Bissau. These practices often highlight the submission and humiliation of girls and women.
Traditional attitudes: It is generally considered that a girl is ready for marriage when she hits puberty. In addition, a study commissioned by Plan International in 2018 found that in many communities Muslim fathers and male community leaders were mostly in favour of child marriage and conservative values.
Family honour: In Guinea-Bissau fathers seek to safeguard their family’s reputation by marrying their daughters early to avoid pregnancies out of wedlock.
Weak legal frameworks: According to a study commissioned by Plan International, there is no common understanding on the minimum legal age for marriage in Guinea-Bissau, even between governmental authorities. Among communities, there is a lack of awareness on the legal age of marriage, or people do not feel concerned by the law because they have never heard of a litigation case.
Trafficking: The buying and selling of child brides reportedly takes place in Guinea Bissau.
What international, regional and national commitments has Guinea-Bissau made?
Guinea-Bissau has committed to eliminate child, early and forced marriage by 2030 in line with target 5.3 of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Guinea-Bissau co-sponsored the 2013 and 2018 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.
Guinea-Bissau 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 2005 Guinea-Bissau signed, but has not yet ratified, the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, including Article 21 regarding the prohibition of child marriage.
In 2008 Guinea-Bissau 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.
During Guinea-Bissau’s 2015 Universal Periodic Review, recommendations were made to improve the school attendance of girls as a way of discouraging child marriage in rural areas. The government reported that child marriage is embedded in traditional culture and that eliminating the practice would take a “great deal of time” and require “careful handling”. It agreed to take practical steps to eradicate the number of child marriages, including through public information campaigns.
As a member of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), in 2017 Guinea-Bissau 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.
In 2019, at the Nairobi Summit on ICPD25, Guinea-Bissau committed to strengthen the national capacity to deliver high quality and appropriate prevention and multi-sectoral (health, psychological, socio economic and legal) responses for survivors of gender-based violence and harmful practices, including child marriage.
At the London Girl Summit in July 2014, the government signed a charter committing to end child marriage by 2020.
Guinea-Bissau is a partner country of the Global Partnership for Education (GPE).
What is the government doing to address child marriage?
Mr. Carlos Alberto Kennedy De Barros, Guinea-Bissau’s Minister for Women, Family and Social Solidarity, spoke about the political and strategic implications of child marriage at the High Level Meeting on Ending Child Marriage in Senegal in October 2017.
During the current cycle of Guinea-Bissau’s Universal Periodic Review, the government has not reported any recent efforts to end child marriage in the country.
What is the minimum legal framework around marriage?
The minimum legal age of marriage in Guinea-Bissau is 18 years, however girls and boys aged 16 can be married with parental consent.
Content featuring Guinea-Bissau
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.
Tostan's community empowerment programme
This case study looks at Tostan's community empowerment programme, a 30-month participant-centred human rights education programme which tackles harmful traditional practices.
- 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).
- 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).
- Girl Summit 2014, The Girl Summit Charter on Ending FGM and Child, Early and Forced Marriage,[website], 2015, https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/459236/Public_Girl_Summit_Charter_with_Signatories.pdf (accessed February 2020).
- Girls Not Brides, 10 Takeaways from the West and Central Africa High-Level Meeting on Child Marriage, [website], 2017, https://www.girlsnotbrides.org/articles/10-takeaways-west-central-africa-high-level-meeting-child-marriage/ (accessed February 2020).
- Global Partnership for Education, Guinea-Bissau, [website], https://www.globalpartnership.org/where-we-work/guinea-bissau (accessed February 2020).
- Ministerio da Economia e Financas, Direccao Geral do Plano, Instituto Nacional de Estatistica, Inquérito aos Indicadores Múltiplos (MICS) 2014, Relatório Final, 2014, https://mics-surveys-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/MICS5/West%20and%20Central%20Africa/Guinea-Bissau/2014/Final/Guinea-Bissau%202014%20MICS%20Final%20Report_Portuguese.pdf (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).
- Nairobi Summit, Zero GBV in Guinea, [website], 2019, http://www.nairobisummiticpd.org/commitment/zero-gbv-guinea-bissauzero-vbg-na-guine-bissau (accessed February 2020).
- UN General Assembly, National report submitted in accordance with paragraph 5 of the annex to Human Rights Council resolution 16/21: Guinea-Bissau, 2019, https://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/Pages/GWindex.aspx (accessed February 2020).
- Plan International, Open Plan, 2018, https://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/glo-openplan_volume3_issue3-final-io-eng-nov18.pdf (accessed February 2020).
- UN General Assembly, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review, Guinea-Bissau, 2015, p.6, p.8, p.18, https://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/Pages/GWindex.aspx (accessed February 2020).
- UN General Assembly, Summary prepared by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in accordance with paragraph 15 (c) of the annex to Human Rights Council resolution 5/1 and paragraph 5 of the annex to Council resolution 16/21, 2014, https://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/Pages/GWindex.aspx (accessed February 2020).
- United Nations, Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform, [website], 2017, https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdg5 (accessed February 2020).
- United States State Department Bureau for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, 2017 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Guinea-Bissau, [website], 2018, https://www.state.gov/reports/2017-country-reports-on-human-rights-practices/guinea-bissau/ (accessed February 2020).