Child marriage violates girls’ rights to health, education and employment. It exposes them to violence and traps them, their families, and their nations in a cycle of intergenerational poverty, thereby costing countries billions of dollars and preventing them from achieving sustainable development. West and Central Africa hosts the three countries with the highest prevalence of child marriage in the world: Niger, Central African Republic and Chad. The region has the highest child marriage rate and the fastest population growth in the world. Without immediate action, the number of child brides will continue to increase, with devastating consequences for the sub-region. Without concerted and accelerated efforts to end child marriage, countries in West and Central Africa will not be able to achieve the demographic dividend and eight of the Sustainable Development Goals.
While there has been social and political progress to end this harmful practice, we still need additional and more concerted efforts to accelerate progress and end child marriage in our lifetime. The High-Level Meeting on Ending Child Marriage is an important step. Hosted in Dakar, Senegal on 23-25 October, 2017, this meeting will bring together representatives from West and Central African governments, civil society, representatives from donor countries, youth advocates and community leaders to discuss the issues, solutions and commit to bringing about a change.
HER CHOICE is creating child marriage-free communities in eleven countries. Read more about our programme