In 2014, the African Union Commission launched the Campaign to End Child Marriage in Africa, with the primary goal of expediting the implementation of Ending Child Marriage (ECM) programs and interventions across member states. Over 30 countries have since initiated campaigns and are actively executing national action plans and initiatives to combat child marriage. Aligned with the AU’s Strategic Plan (2019-2023), the overarching objective of this campaign is to accelerate actions at the Member State level, aiming to eradicate child marriage by 2040, in harmony with the AU’s strategic framework for Africa’s Agenda for Children. This strategic approach encompasses four key interventions for member countries:
- Establishing legislations and institutional mechanisms to ensure effective enforcement and access to justice
- Creating and executing roadmaps for comprehensive cross-sectoral services, including social protection and referral pathways
- Mobilizing community resources to counteract negative social and gender norms perpetuating child marriage
- Enhancing evidence, data generation, and documentation systems in line with international and regional standards to inform effective policy and programming.
Despite advancements in select regions, child marriage continues to cast a shadow over Africa, significantly impacting children, particularly girls, and the broader society. The well-documented repercussions of child marriage on children’s rights and well-being have led to its recognition as a pressing international and continental concern. The African Union Commission, along with Member States, United Nations entities, and collaborative partners, remains steadfast in their commitment to work collectively to eliminate child marriage throughout the African continent.