Statement from Girls Not Brides on the first African Girls’ Summit on child marriage in Africa

Closing panel at the African Girls' Summit in Lusaka, Zambia. | Photo credit: Sophie Drouet | Girls Not Brides

A number of Girls Not Brides members attended the first African Girls’ Summit on child marriage in Africa, which took place from 26-27 November 2015 in Lusaka, Zambia, and participated in strategic meetings and consultations on the margins of the Summit. This statement summarises the outcomes of their deliberations and reactions to the Summit outcomes.

We believe the African Girls’ Summit on ending child marriage in Africa showed the growing commitment that the African Union, national governments, civil society organisations, traditional leaders and cooperating partners have shown towards ending child marriage. It was also a useful forum for learning and sharing best practices and challenges related to approaches to end child marriage.

The African Girls’ Summit showed the growing commitment that the African Union, national governments, civil society organisations, traditional leaders and cooperating partners have shown towards ending child marriage.

But now we are calling for action. We believe the African Union as well as national governments must develop and implement detailed plans aimed at turning their commitments into concrete change in the lives of married girls and girls at risk of marriage. Unfortunately, the Summit did not enable participants to agree on concrete, specific and collective next steps for Summit participants or non-attending actors engaged in efforts to end child marriage to implement at community, national and regional levels.

We are convinced that civil society organisations, including Girls Not Brides members, have a critical role to play in helping to shape, implement and monitor the strategies and plans to end child marriage that are put in place under the leadership of national governments, and we are calling for African leaders to ensure the full participation of civil society as partners.

We are calling for African leaders to ensure the full participation of civil society as partners. We also call for greater participation of young people.

We also call for greater participation of young people, in particular girls who are primarily affected by child marriage, in all efforts to end child marriage. This will be essential to ensuring a better understanding of the causes and impact of child marriage and to ensuring lasting change.

It is now time for all of us to make sure that rhetoric translates into meaningful action so that we can end child marriage in a generation.

The African Girls’ Summit has shown us that child marriage has now been recognised as a key priority in Africa’s development agenda. It is now time for all of us to make sure that all the rhetoric translates into meaningful action so that we can end child marriage in a generation.