Consultancy opportunity: Study of early marriage laws in Africa

A collaborative activity by the Inter-Parliamentary Union and Pan African Parliament

Extended deadline for applications: 9 July 2013


The Pan-African Parliament (PAP) and Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) are committed to facilitating parliamentary action aimed at promoting maternal, newborn and child health. In 2012 the IPU provided financial and technical support to the PAP for the hosting of the Annual African Women Parliamentarians Conference in Johannesburg, South Africa in October 2012. The Conference resulted in the adoption of a set of resolutions by the 3rd sitting of the PAP in October 2012. These resolutions centred on strengthening the contribution of African parliamentarians to improved maternal, newborn and child health.

The IPU and the PAP are proposing to collaborate on the implementation of some of the above-mentioned resolutions. This would complement efforts aimed at securing implementation of the IPU resolution on “Access to health as a basic right: The role of parliaments in addressing key challenges to securing the health of women and children”, adopted by the 126th Assembly in March 2012, and the PAP resolution “To work towards specific parliamentary review and harmonize national registration and child marriage with the Maputo Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa and call for the removal of negative clauses and inconsistencies such as so-called ‘parental consent’ that permit criminal and early marriage of children below the age of 18”.


The review exercise will focus on the legal environment related to early marriage in two groups of countries in Africa: one where the incidence of early marriage is very high and another where the incidence is relatively low.

The consultant will consider legislative provisions pertaining to the age of marriage, the age of consent, the registration of marriages, the annulment of early marriage, enforcement mechanisms, punitive measures for those who directly or indirectly permit the practice and any others as relevant. The consultant will ascertain the existence or absence of such legal provisions, evaluate the level of consistency between existing laws and identify loopholes, especially provisions which recognize customary law permitting early marriage. The consultant will also assess the legal supremacy of provisions related to preventing early marriage.

The consultant is expected to deliver the English version of the draft report and finalize the text based on feedback received from the PAP and the IPU. The duties and responsibilities of the consultant will include, but will not necessarily be limited to, the following tasks:

  • Familiarize himself/herself with the terms of reference, noting in particular the intended objectives and target audiences;
  • As necessary, consult the IPU and other expert organizations for information;
  • Conduct interviews with key contact persons identified in selected countries;
  • Develop a draft report based on emerging observations and draw conclusions on the extent to which legislation contributes to the situation of early marriage in the two groups of countries;
  • Address any gaps, inconsistencies, etc. identified by the IPU and the PAP and produce the final report; and
  • Present the report to the PAP Women’s Conference in September 2013 if required.

Deliverables and timelines

The consultant will be expected to deliver the product in two phases:

First draft
Sent to reviewer: 9 August 2013
Review completed: 19 August 2013

Final version
Sent to reviewer: 30 August 2013

Qualifications / Experience

  • Knowledge of national laws and policies related to children’s and women’s rights as well as reproductive, maternal, newborn and child rights in Africa.
  • Knowledge of international, regional and national human rights standards related to maternal, newborn and child rights.
  • Expert knowledge of the prevailing sexual, maternal, newborn and child health issues in Africa.
  • A track record of working with parliaments.
  • Excellent writing and editing skills.

Submission of applications

It is estimated that 20 working days are required for this consultancy. Remuneration will be commensurate with skills and experience and will be determined in accordance with applicable rules and UN rates.

Qualified candidates should submit a curriculum vitae and two relevant samples of previous work by e-mail to: The closing date for the submission of applications is 9 July 2013.

For further information, please contact Ms. Sue Mbaya at: