Statement by African Union Campaign to End Child Marriage in Africa
25 November, 2018, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
As we commemorate the annual 16-days of activism against Gender-Based Violence, which is from 25 November to 10 December, the African Union’s Campaign to End Child Marriage in Africa calls upon all African governments, religious and traditional leaders, civil society organizations, activists and communities to galvanize their actions to end all forms of violence against women and girls in Africa.
We have just concluded two important summits , the Pre-Youth Summit and the 2nd African Girls Summit from 21-24 November 2018 in Accra, Ghana under the theme “ Enough with the Silence”. These days have been extraordinary in terms of advocacy work on ending all forms of gender-based violence particularly child marriage in Africa. It brought together First Ladies from Ghana, Sierra Leone, Niger and Chad and High-level officials of the African Union, Ministers from many African countries, religious and traditional leaders and officials of the UN Agencies, Civil Society Organizations and youth from more than 30 countries in Africa. Issues such as gender- based violence and the need for investing in adolescent education specifically access to services such as sexual health care, sexuality education and rights protection were addressed during the Summit. In one of the several panel discussions, the issue of gender- based violence in conflict zones were highlighted by experts and youth from conflict zones. Panelists forwarded several important recommendations such as the need to do advocacy works with governments to ensure high level commitments and to link child marriage to other issues such as education, security, child exploitation and gender-based violence.
Across Africa, 125 million girls and women alive today were married before their 18th birthday. Over one in three young women in Africa are married during their childhood, and one in ten before reaching their 15th birthday. Child marriage is viewed as one form of violence against girls and is a harmful practice, which severely affects the rights of children. According to the World Bank Study child marriage is associated with higher rates of fertility and population growth. This in turn reduces levels of total wealth per person, especially in countries that have high population growth. The loss of human capital wealth incurred today because women were married early in their youth is estimated at US$ 63 billion for 12 countries that account for half of the continent’s population.
We encourage African governments, traditional and religious leaders, civil society organizations, girls, boys, women, men, families, the private sector, the media , the artistic community, academia and engaged citizens to work together in solidarity , listen to survivors of all forms of gender-based violence and end the culture of silencing.
The AU Campaign to End Child Marriage in Africa is now in its fifth year and has made impressive gains in advocating for the end of child marriage on the continent, from enhancing the normative framework to harnessing the political commitment of multiple countries. The Campaign has the good will and enthusiasm of national, regional and global partners and donors, and has renewed determination to create results on the ground, where the hard work is needed and where positive changes will be felt in the lives of young girls.
The AU Commission views child marriage as a crosscutting issue and recognizes that it is a development, cultural, health, political and religious issue – among others. The AU specifically promotes policies related to young people’s’ rights and is mandated by its various instruments focusing on the rights of children and youth and has promoted adaptation and implementation of these instruments at regional and national level as
well as conducted monitoring of implementation by Member States to ensure accountability.
#HearMeToo #enoughWiththeSilence #EndChildMarriageNow!!
For more information, please visit: www.au.int
About the African Union
The African Union spearheads Africa’s development and integration in close collaboration with African Union Member States, the Regional Economic Communities and African citizens. AU Vision: to accelerate progress towards an integrated, prosperous and inclusive Africa, at peace with itself, playing a dynamic role in the continental and global arena, effectively driven by an accountable, efficient and responsive Commission. Learn more at: http://www.au.int/en/.