130 million African girls and women are married from childhood today

Addis Ababa / Dakar / Nairobi / New York, June 16, 2022 – In Africa, 130 million people have been married off as children, with girls under the age of 18 already married to adult women who were married off as children. Today, UNICEF has launched a continental and regional report on child marriage and female genital mutilation in Africa. The reports review the status of these exercises and call on governments and regional agencies to step up efforts to increase domestic resources for child marriage and stop female genital mutilation, in line with the African Union Agenda 2063 and 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Regional and global priorities have been underscored by the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. ‘Children.

Child marriage and female genital mutilation violate children’s rights. Yet in many communities across the continent, girls continue to come in contact with one or both of these practices. Child marriage is prevalent across the continent, with the highest levels in the Sahel and parts of Central and East Africa. Nine of the ten countries with the highest number of child marriages are in sub-Saharan Africa, including Niger, the Central African Republic, Chad, Mali, Mozambique, Burkina Faso, South Sudan, Guinea and Nigeria. About 140 million girls and women in Africa have gone through genital mutilation, of which more than 40 million were married as children.

“Stopping child marriage is a major priority for UNICEF. To accelerate efforts, we need to invest in high-impact areas, including poverty reduction, a key driver of child marriage, ensuring girls ‘access to quality education, and social and behavioral change for girls’ full and active participation. Women in social and economic life. Due to the high prevalence of child marriage in rural areas, multidisciplinary and relevant interventions are needed among poor families and those with the lowest school enrollment rates. We need a different approach to make a difference in child marriage and to help protect the rights of girls and women, “said Marie-Pierre Poirier, UNICEF Regional Director for West and Central Africa.

Some African countries have made great strides in reducing child marriage, while others have seen stagnation. Conflict, climate change and COVID-19, which together have hampered education and created economic shocks, have put more girls at risk of child marriage, with some parents turning to practice to deal with the effects of the crisis.

In commemoration of this year’s African Children’s Day, June 16, “Elimination of Harmful Habits Affecting Children: Progress in Policy and Practice since 2013”. The data shows that at the continental level, Africa is lagging behind in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals 5.3 by 2030 to eradicate all harmful practices. If progress is not accelerated, another 45 million girls in sub-Saharan Africa will be married off as children. Over the next decade, due to the effects of slow progress and population growth.

“As African governments evaluate both what has been invested and what remains to be done to end child marriage and female genital mutilation, increasing domestic resources to tackle harmful practices is essential to success. And for which he deserves so much, ”said Mohammed M. Malik Fall, UNICEF Regional Director for East and South Africa.

Coordinated interventions such as UNICEF and UNFPA’s Joint / Global Program to End Child Marriage and Female Genital Mitigation (FGM), the African Union Campaign to End Child Marriage and the FGM (Salima Initiative) are much more important than the spotlight. Successful eradication of harmful practices on the continent.

UNICEF calls on the government and all stakeholders to accelerate efforts to promote child rights in Africa:

  • To renew their commitment and accelerate implementation to help children develop and realize their full potential;
  • Intensifying the response to the continent’s new child rights challenges through laws and policies that protect children, joint research and advocacy, and strong oversight by parliament;
  • Increase investment in child protection programs to prevent and respond to all forms of violence, abuse and exploitation;
  • Promoting inclusion and outreach to every child, especially those who are often neglected, especially those with special needs, those from disadvantaged backgrounds and those living in rural areas, in the spirit of not leaving anyone behind;
  • Strengthen continental institutions to build strong child protection, health, education and social protection systems;
  • Take a approach that catalyzes change for children and involves society as a whole through the participation of children and their communities.

“Without the involvement of traditional leaders in community engagement and technological intervention, it will not be possible to change social norms that encourage child marriage and other harmful practices. We need strong civil society organizations, traditional leaders and community structures that together strengthen the child protection system and protect girls and boys from violence, exploitation, abuse and abuse. Harmful practices, “said Dr. Edward Adai, UNICEF Representative to the African Union. The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa.


Notes to editors:

See report here:

Click Contacts :

Diane Yameogo, UNICEF WCARO, +221 78 389 1351, diyameogo@unicef.org

Priscilla Ofori-Amanfo, UNICEF ESARO, + 254 708 692 649, poforiamanfo@unicef.org

Rachel Mesfin Leikun, UNICEF AULO, + 251 941 456 344, rleikun@unicef.org

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