130 million African girls and women have been married since childhood

Addis Ababa / Dakar / Nairobi / New York, 16 June 2022 – Africa has 130 million people married as children, ranging from girls under the age of 18 already married to adult women who married in infancy. UNICEF today launched a continental and regional report on child marriage and female genital mutilation in Africa. The reports measure the state of these practices and call on regional governments and institutions to accelerate efforts as well as increase domestic resources to end child marriage and female genital mutilation, in line with the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Regional and global priorities are emphasized by the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Child marriage and female circumcision are a violation of children’s rights. However, in many societies across the continent, girls still undergo one or both of these processes. Child marriage is widespread across the continent, with highest levels in the Sahel and parts of Central and East Africa. Nine of the ten countries with the highest prevalence of child marriage in the world are in sub-Saharan Africa, including Niger, Central African Republic, Chad, Mali, Mozambique, Burkina Faso, South Sudan, Guinea, and Nigeria. Nearly 140 million girls and women in Africa have undergone FGM, of whom more than 40 million are married as children.

“Ending child marriage is a key priority for UNICEF. To accelerate efforts, we need to invest in high-impact areas, including reducing poverty, which is the main driver of child marriage, ensuring girls’ access to quality education and broad-based learning and social and behavioral change for full participation and effective girls and women Women in social and economic life Multisectoral and contextual interventions are needed given the high prevalence of child marriage in rural areas, among the poorest families and those with the lowest school enrollment rates. said Marie-Pierre Poirier, UNICEF Regional Director for West and Central Africa, “We need a different approach to make a difference in child marriage and help protect the rights of girls and women.”

Some countries in Africa have made great strides in reducing child marriage, while others have stagnated. Conflict, climate change and COVID-19, which together have disrupted education and created economic shocks, have put more girls at risk of child marriage, with some parents turning to the practice to deal with the effects of crises.

This year’s observance of the International Day of the African Child, 16 June, is titled “Eliminating Harmful Practices Affecting Children: Progress in Policies and Practices Since 2013”. The data shows that at the continental level, Africa is still lagging behind in achieving Sustainable Development Goal 5.3 target to eliminate all harmful practices by 2030. If progress is not accelerated, another 45 million girls in Sub-Saharan Africa will be married off when they are children in the next decade, Because of the effects of slow progress and population growth.

“As African governments assess both what has been invested and what needs to be done to end child marriage and female genital mutilation, increasing domestic resources to address harmful practices is imperative to success. It will give UNICEF regional director for Eastern and Southern Africa Mohamed M. Malik Fall This is for every child on the continent a better chance of having the childhood they deserve and deserve.”

Coordinated interventions such as the UNICEF-UNFPA Global Program to End Child Marriage and FGM, the African Union Campaign to End Child Marriage and FGM (Salima) as well as the Spotlight Initiative are more important than ever the successful elimination of harmful practices on the continent.

To accelerate action to improve children’s rights in Africa, UNICEF calls on governments and all stakeholders to:

  • renew their commitments and accelerate implementation to help children develop and achieve their full potential;
  • intensify the response to new challenges in the field of children’s rights on the continent through laws and policies that protect children, joint research and advocacy, and stronger oversight by parliaments;
  • Increase investment in child protection programs to prevent and respond to all forms of violence, abuse and exploitation;
  • Promoting inclusion and access to every child, especially those who are often neglected, including children with special needs, children from disadvantaged backgrounds and those living in rural areas, in the spirit of leaving no one behind;
  • Strengthen continental institutions to build stronger protection, health, education and social protection systems for children;
  • Adopting a whole-of-society approach, including through the participation of children and their communities, to catalyze change for children.

“Without the participation of communities and the participation of traditional leaders in technical interventions, it will not be possible to change the social norms that encourage child marriage and other harmful practices. We need stronger civil society organizations, traditional leaders and community structures that work together to strengthen the child protection system and protect girls and boys from violence and Exploitation, Abuse and Abuse, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa.


Notes to editors:

Please see the reports here:

Click on Contacts :

Diane Yamogo, UNICEF WCARO, +221 78389 1351, diyameogo@unicef.org

Priscilla Ofori Amanfo, UNICEF Issaru, +254708692649, poforiamanfo@unicef.org

Rachel Mesfin Lecon, UNICEF AULO, +251941456344, rleikun@unicef.org

Leave a Comment