The Peace and Security Council of the African Union (AU), dedicated its 692nd meeting held on 13 June 2017, to an Open Session on the theme: “Ending Child Marriages”, and expressed concern over the increasing cases of child marriages and other forms of abuses to children.
The current status of child marriage, according to UNICEF report, shows Sub-Saharan Africa topping the list. “Across the globe, rates of child marriage are highest in sub-Saharan Africa, where around 4 in 10 girls marry before age 18; about one in eight were married or in union before age 15. This is followed by Latin America and the Caribbean and the Middle East and North Africa, where 24 per cent and 18 per cent, respectively, of women between the ages of 20 and 24 were married in childhood.”
The International Center for Research on Women says one-third of girls in the developing world are married before the age of 18 and 1 in 9 are married before the age of 15, while the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) states that “Between 2011 and 2020, more than 140 million girls will become child brides.”
“Council and participants expressed concern over the fact that cases of child marriages and other forms of abuses to children, particularly young girls, have significantly been on the increase in a number of countries in Africa,” according to a statement by the AU today.
The Council acknowledged that promoting the rights of women and girls is very critical, not only in harnessing Africa’s demographic dividend, but also in achieving the sustainable development objectives of AU Agenda 2063 and UN Agenda 2030.
They council also acknowledged that child marriage directly affects the health, rights, well-being and future of children, particularly girls, further noted that child marriages have a lasting negative impact not only on the victims, but also on their families and communities and that, besides hurting economies, it also perpetuates intergenerational cycles of poverty.