African Union launches its first-ever campaign to end child marriage

29 MAY 2014 | ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA

The African Union (AU) has launched a first-ever campaign of its kind in Africa to End Child Marriage. The two-year campaign, organised in partnership with UNICEF and UNFPA, will focus on 10 African countries and aim to accelerate the end of child marriage in Africa by enhancing continental awareness of the harmful impact of child marriage and by taking appropriate legal, social and economic measures.

Every year, 14 million girls are married off before they turn 18, with devastating consequences for their health, education and wellbeing. 15 out of the 20 countries with the highest rates of child marriage are in Africa. 39% of girls in sub-Saharan Africa are married before their 18th birthday; 13% are married by their 15th birthday.

Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Ethiopia, Mauritania, Mozambique, Malawi, Niger, Sierra Leone and Zambia have been selected as focus countries for the campaign based on the high prevalence rate of child marriage.

It is expected that after completing the two years cycle, the campaign will continue in another set of African countries where child marriage is prevalent.

Appointment of Goodwill Ambassador for Child Marriage

During the campaign launch, the AU announced the appointment of Ms Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda as Goodwill Ambassador for Ending Child Marriage. In her statement to the AU, Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda, General Secretary, World YWCA which is a PMNCH member, stressed the critical importance of prevention activities and protection as well as provision of shelter to those who were already victims of child marriage, especially in conflict zones.

Ms Gumbonzvanda is a trained human rights lawyer with extensive experience in conflict resolution and mediation. She has been working on issues of women and children's human rights for 20years, with a special focus on crisis countries. She is Active in the women's movement, and specifically focused on issues of violence against women, peace with justice, property rights, sexual and reproductive health and rights and HIV and AIDS.

In reference to this end child marriage campaign, Ms Gumbonzvanda stated in one of her blogs: “Africa is rising to reclaim its conscience and dignity by leading such a campaign Its not only an economic justice case, it’s about rights, dignity, and being!”

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