The African Union is committed to Strengthening a people centered Union through active communication of the programmes of the African Union, the branding of the Union and participation of Member States and other stakeholders in defining and implementing the African agenda.

  • African Girl’s Summit on Ending Child Marriage in Africa, Lusaka, Zambia
    November 26, 2015 to November 27, 2015

    African Girl’s Summit on Ending Child Marriage in Africa
    26 – 27 November 2015
    LUSAKA, ZAMBIA

  • Lusaka Hosts Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Capacity Building Workshop on Ending Child Marriage and other Harmful Traditional Practices in Africa
    September 07, 2015

    Lusaka Hosts Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Capacity Building Workshop on Ending Child Marriage and other Harmful Traditional Practices in Africa

    Lusaka, Zambia, 07 September 2015–A five-day workshop to build the capacity of African Union Member States to end Child Marriage kicked off today Monday 7 September 2015 in Lusaka, Zambia.

    The workshop organised by African Union Commission in conjunction with UNFPA, UNICEF, Inter-African Committee and the African Child Policy Forum, under theme; "Ending Child Marriage and other harmful traditional practices in Africa - Mechanisms and Strategies, is being attended by experts from Regional Economic Communities, Member States and regional based Civil Society Organizations.

    The workshop will feature among others theoretical presentations on the linkages of harmful traditional practices such as child marriage and female genital mutilation, the role of stakeholders and the effect of traditional and religious practices of child marriage on Africa’s socio-economic development.

    In his welcome remarks, the Zambian Minister of Chiefs and Traditional Affairs, Dr Joseph Katema M.P., expressed appreciation for the commitment shown by the African Union Member States towards the AU Campaign to End Child Marriage in Africa, noting that 'as concerned Africans, we are obliged to ensure that girls remain girls, not brides and enjoy their childhood manifested in education, play, good health and participation in social and cultural endeavors that are appropriate and relevant to their development'. The Minister charged all workshop participants to maximize the opportunity in coming up mechanisms and strategies that will reflect the noble cause of ending child marriage and other harmful traditional practices within the broader agenda of safe-guarding the life of children, especially the girl child.

    On behalf of the African Union Commission, Dr Johan Strijdom thanked the Government of Zambia for accepting to host the Regional Capacity Building Workshop stating that 'the Republic of Zambia offers evidence toward the
    Directorate of Information and Communication. African Union Commission

    commitment of African governments in ensuring that resolutions are instituted nationally as well as at a community level'. In a contemporary culture, where social volatility is a common occurrence, child marriage has become a dominant subject for debate. There needs to be continuous efforts to discover new directions in eradicating the practice and enhancing the prospects grounded in gender and development. Dr Strijdom affirmed that, “Girls and women have the right to live free from violence and discrimination and achieve their potential but are prevented due to being forced into child marriage.”

    A key component of the African Union Campaign to End Child Marriage in Africa is to enhance the capacity of Member States Experts, Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and Civil Society Organizations(CSOs) in dealing with the harmful practice of child marriage, thus making them suitable or better equipped to design and manage development plans in which social and economic policies and strategies are fully interfaced to deliver the kinds of transformative outcomes desired in ending child marriage and other harmful traditional practices affecting children in Africa.

    Child Marriage has negative effects on the girl, her family, the nation and the whole world and large. These girls are also exposed to a number of health disadvantages such as the risks of contracting HIV/AIDS, the risk of cervical cancer, pregnancy and child bearing complications and even death. These and other effects as well as how to better work towards ending them is what the series of regional based workshops seeks to address.
    About the AU Campaign to End Child Marriage in Africa

    The campaign was launched at the continental level in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 29 May 2014, during the Conference of Ministers of Social Development. It aims at ending child marriage by: (i) supporting legal and policy actions in the protection and promotion of human rights, (ii) mobilizing continental awareness of the negative socio-economic impact of child marriage, (iii) building social movement and social mobilization at the grassroots and national levels; and (iv) increasing the capacity of non-state actors to undertake evidence based policy advocacy including the role of youth leadership through new media technology, monitoring and evaluation among others.
    KO/EAT

    Media contact
    Ms. Nena Thundu; THUNDUN@africa-union.org
    Mr. Kenneth Oliko; Kennetho@africa-union.org
    pages.au.int/cecm| www.facebook.com/OurGirlsAfrika| www.twitter.com/ourgirlsau

    For further information, please contact:
    Directorate of Information and Communication | African Union Commission I E-mail: DIC@african-union.org I Web Site: www.au.int I Addis Ababa | Ethiopia

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  • The Republic of Zimbabwe Launches AU Campaign to End Child Marriage in Africa
    August 02, 2015

    PRESS RELEASE

    The Republic of Zimbabwe Launches AU Campaign to End Child Marriage in Africa

    "Child molesters, pedophiles, and rapists should not be allowed to get away with lenient sentences such as community service. Child marriage is a tragedy for the girl child, her unborn children and her country's development"

    Harare, Zimbabwe, 31 July 2015 – “We have a crisis on our hands. The UN estimates that 15 million girls experience child marriage each year. That is more than the entire population of Zimbabwe. We must move from vulnerability to voice and leadership. Africa is young and full of innovation. This energy must be harnessed to ensure that we have lasting solutions", said Ms. Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda, the AU Goodwill Ambassador on Ending Child Marriage in Africa at the national launch of the AU Campaign to End Child Marriage in Africa which held at the Harare International Conference Centre, under the theme "We are Girls not Brides".

    Child marriage predominantly affects girls who live in poor and rural communities. The likelihood of girls being married off as children, stems largely from the lack of education and poverty. Zimbabwe has one of the highest rates of child marriage in Africa; with about 31% of Zimbabwean girls being married before their 18th birthday and another 4% before they turn 15.

    Speaking at the launch, His Excellency, Dr. Mustapha Sidiki Kaloko, the AU Commissioner for Social Affairs noted that the launch of the AU Campaign to End Child Marriage in Zimbabwe comes at a time when H.E. Cde Robert Mugabe is the sitting Chairperson of the African Union and furthers His Excellency's commitment not just to the theme of the African Union for 2015, i.e. Year of Women Empowerment and Development towards Agenda 2063, but also to issues affecting women and girls across the continent. This has also been evidenced in the way His Excellency was able to galvanize other Heads of States into adopting the African Common Position on Ending Child Marriage during the June 2015 Assembly of AU Heads of State and Government.

    The Republic of Zimbabwe is the 8th African Nation to launch the AU Campaign following national launches in Ethiopia, Niger, Burkina Faso, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar and Uganda. The Zimbabwean launch of the campaign also comes at a critical time when the country was recently under the global lens following a statement by Prosecutor-General Mr. Johannes Tomana on the age of sexual consent. This sparked a public outcry and accentuated the need for a nationwide campaign that tackles the harmful practice of child marriage with the focus of highlighting the consequences of allowing the perpetuation of the practice.

    In her keynote address, Zimbabwe’s First Lady, Dr. Grace Mugabe called on all Zimbabwean daughters to fight against the sentencing of girls to a lifetime of violation. She pleaded with girls not to be threatened into being married off but to strive for a better life; making education their first love. The First Lady also called on the Ministry of Justice to harmonize all laws on the age of marriage to 18 years as stipulated by the constitution and apply stiffer penalties and sentencing of violators. "Child molesters, pedophiles, and rapists should not be allowed to get away with lenient sentences such as community service. Child marriage is a tragedy for the girl child, her unborn children and her country's development", she affirmed. Dr. Mugabe also received the petition of the child parliamentarians and called on all Cabinet Ministers to jointly work towards a national action plan on ending child marriage in Zimbabwe.

    The event was attended by the Zimbabwean Senate President, Hon. Edna Madzongwe, the Speaker of Parliament, Hon. Advocate Jacob Mudenda, Members of Senate and Parliament, Cabinet Ministers who all joined their voices to calling for an end to child marriages. Speaking on behalf of the UN agencies, the Resident Coordinator and Country Director for UNICEF, Mr Reza Hossani called on all stakeholders to reject social norms and break the cultural silence that continues to hide these violations of the rights of vulnerable children.

    About the AU Campaign to End Child Marriage in Africa

    The campaign was launched at the continental level in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 29 May 2014, during the Conference of Ministers of Social Development. It aims at ending child marriage by: (i) supporting legal and policy actions in the protection and promotion of human rights, (ii) mobilizing continental awareness of the negative socio-economic impact of child marriage, (iii) building social movement and social mobilization at the grassroots and national levels; and (iv) increasing the capacity of non-state actors to undertake evidence based policy advocacy including the role of youth leadership through new media technology, monitoring and evaluation among others.

    End ###

    For further information, please contact

    Ms. Nena Thundu; THUNDUN@africa-union.org

    Mr. Kenneth Oliko; Kennetho@africa-union.org

    pages.au.int/cecm | www.facebook.com/OurGirlsAfrika| www.twitter.com/ourgirlsau

    Directorate of Information and Communication

    Directorate of Information and Communication | Information and Communication | African Union Commission
    Tel: +251-11-5517700 | Fax: | E-mail: DIC@africa-union.org | Web:www.au.int

    Addis Ababa | Ethiopia

  • The Republic of South Africa Celebrates the 25th Year of the Adoption of the Day of the African Child
    June 15, 2015

    The Republic of South Africa Celebrates the 25th Year of the Adoption of the Day of the African Child

    The Day of the African Child 2015 under the theme “25 years after the adoption of the African Children’s Charter: Accelerating our Collective Efforts to End Child Marriage in Africa”

    Johannesburg, South Africa: 15 June 2015- The Day of the African Child (DAC) is commemorated every year on 16 June by Member States of the African Union (AU), to acknowledge the students of the 1976 Soweto Uprising – a day that contributed greatly to the eventual collapse of the apartheid regime. The day commemorates the violent action inflicted by police officials towardsunarmed school children, protesting against the unjust apartheid education system. The DAC also offers the opportunity for stakeholders across all spheres - governments, international institutions and communities - to address the rights of children as well as a continental awareness of the obstacles for attaining these rights. DAC 2015 commemorated the 25th Anniversary of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC) and was dedicated towardsthe AU Commission’s commitment tothe eliminationof child marriage in Africa.

    The DAC celebrations were aimed at: drawing emphasis toward the negative impact of child marriage and the advantageous outcomes of ending the practice. The fostering of an open discussion and greater awareness by stakeholders - at community, national, regional and continental level - in order to enhance and heighten efforts to accelerate the end of this practice. The need for best practices on ending child marriage in Africa was also highlighted at the tribute, as well as the need to provide a platform for advancing children’s participation in ending child marriage.

    Further objectives of DAC 2015 included provision for visibility and advocacy as well as the support of youth projects to end child marriage in AU Member States, as such, stressing the importance of the collaboration of various actors to have more influence on advancing children’s rights.

    DAC 2015 was a two day event, on 14th and 15th June 2015, which included a workshop for 100 children on 14 June. The children who participated in the event came from several member states such as Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The workshop was aimed at the development of a joint statement to be presented by the children at the beginning of the program. The workshop also included the objective of developing clear questions to guide the children during the Inter- Generational Dialogue and finally develop the Declaration for the Day of the African Child 2015.

    A number of partners facilitated the workshop, which included DSA-AUC,ACERWC, UNICEF, PLAN and UNFPA.The workshop started off with the introduction of the agenda and objectives of the event, as well as the impact and principles of participation from children to foster child rights and end child marriage.
    The second day of the commemoratory eventon 15 June commenced with a march from the Mandela House to the Hector Peterson Memorial Museumto honour the legacy of the children of the 1976 Soweto Uprising. The march was attended bychild representatives, RSA Government officials, the AUC, partners from UN and CSOs as well the community around Soweto. Upon reaching the Museum, Ms Faith Mazibuko from the Department of Social Development, Gauteng Province, RSA gave some welcoming remarks to set the tone of the event. To allow for a greater understanding of the commemoration, Ms NomsaMtshweni of the Department of Social Affairs Mpumalanga Province, RSA gave the background and context of June 16. To celebrate the lives and efforts of school children of the Soweto Uprising, Minister Bathabile Dlamini and 39 children, to mark 39 years for June 16, laid wreaths.

    Appeals presented at DAC 2015 to ensure the eradication of child marriage This mission in Soweto (South Africa) on the 14 of June 2015, represented by the children of Africa, reiterated the effect of child marriage on the continent, and offered several requests to our governments, parents, guardians, communities, African Union and United Nations. The governments of Member states were implored to enact the laws that say no one will force a girl child into child marriage. The need for an in depth discussion or dialogue between parents and the governments about child marriage served as another key request brought forward by the children of Africa. The African child asked of its governments to facilitate the building of centers or safe havens for child marriage survivors. It is essential that the impact and importance of education be highlighted, and the children asked of our governments to provide them with schools, and offer encouragement for children to complete their education. Essentially, the governments of our African continent were requested to introduceprogrammes for children to enable them to express themselves,and ultimately, create laws and legislation that say NO! to child marriage.

    The child participants at the DAC voiced themselves towards their parents, guardians and their community to ensure open discussion sessions as well as allow for the opportunityfor children to express themselves and provide protection, security and education for their children.

    The children also requested the African Union and the United Nations, as key bodies, to develop model policies to declare a person who infects a child with HIV during child marriage, condemned a third degree criminal. The United Nations was requested to offer increased protection toward young girls, in order to prevent them from being married off to older men.Knowledge, such as statistic on child marriage is crucial, and the African Union should communicate with health care services in Member States to get such statistics.

    The child participants ultimately highlighted that with active participation and involvement from all platforms, organizations, civil society, governments, communities, structures and the children; as well as continental awareness, Africa may see the elimination of child marriage.

    For further information, please contact
    Ms. Nena Thundu | Social Affairs | African Union Commission | Tel: 011 5518 22 80 | Email:
    THUNDUN@africa-union.org | #EndChildMarriageNow
    Mr. Kenneth Oliko | Social Affairs | African Union Commission | Tel: 011 5518 22 23 |
    E-mail: Kennetho@africa-union.org | #EndChildMarriageNow

  • The Republic of Madagascar Launches AU Campaign to End Child Marriage in Africa
    June 02, 2015

    Antananarivo, 02 June 2015 – “It is important to respect human rights particularly the rights of the child as a main component in the efforts against this harmful practice and Madagascar cannot progress unless we seriously address child marriage which is an impediment to our development" says Her Excellency, Mrs. Vohangy Rajaonarimampianina, First Lady of the Republic of Madagascar.

    In her remarks, the First Lady noted that Madagascar has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world, with devastating effects on the lives of the girls affected. There has been a downward trend in the rate of child marriage in Madagascar, following the law passed in 2007, setting the marriageable age at 18 for girls and boys alike. Previously, girls could be married at 14 and boys at 17. However, child marriage is still common, especially in rural areas where traditional marriage ceremonies are common; mostly backed by age long and strong affinity to social and cultural norms. Her Excellency stressed her full commitment that her office will continue to lead with stakeholders in ending child marriage in Madagascar by also strengthening the national policy to end child marriage.

    Recent findings show that nearly half of all Malagasy women (48 per cent) aged 20-24 were married or cohabiting before the age of 18. One in nine girls are married by the age of 15 years. Child marriage has several harmful effects on the overall wellbeing of young girls who are not psychologically, emotionally and physically ready for conjugal life. It increases the probability of having children at a younger age, which increases the risk of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, maternal mortality and obstetric fistula. Complications of pregnancy and childbearing are the leading cause of death for girls 15-19 in Madagascar.

    The launch of the campaign in Madagascar provides an opportunity to further the resolve of the government to continue working with partners, the police, policymakers, women’s associations, local communities and traditional leaders in order to raise awareness on and end gender-based violence, including child marriage. "We will encourage the need for providing girls the chance to be well educated and also the protection of girls who have already been married from abuse within the marriage", said the UNFPA resident representative- Mr Mamadou Dicko

    The launch of the campaign which took place in Antananarivo with the official launch in the morning and panel discussion on ending child marriage in the afternoon, was also attended by Government representatives from different Ministries including the lead Ministry on the child marriage Campaign- Ministry of Population, Social Protection and Gender, members of communities affected by child marriage, representatives from the AU Commission, UNFPA, UNICEF and civil society partners. There were musical performances by the children and youth cultural groups, all focusing attention on the harmful tradition practice of children marriage. The closing remark was given by the Prime Minister- Mr Jean Ravelonarivo he reinforced the need for collective action and commitment by all attending stakeholders to end child marriage in Madagascar and work towards provision of equal opportunities to both boys and girls as they are the backbone of the country’s human capital. The Campaign was launched with a brief statement of commitment to ending child marriage in Madagascar by H.E. First Lady.

    About the AU Campaign to End Child Marriage in Africa.

    The campaign was launched at the continental level in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 29 May, 2014, during the Conference of Ministers of Social Development. It aims at ending child marriage by: (i) supporting legal and policy actions in the protection and promotion of human rights, (ii) mobilizing continental awareness of the negative socio-economic impact of child marriage, (iii) building social movement and social mobilization at the grassroots and national levels; and (iv) increasing the capacity of non-state actors to undertake evidence based policy advocacy including the role of youth leadership through new media technology, monitoring and evaluation among others.

    End ###
    For further information, please contact
    Ms. Nena Thundu; THUNDUN@africa-union.org
    Mr. Kenneth Oliko; Kennetho@africa-union.org
    pages.au.int/cecm | www.facebook.com/OurGirlsAfrika | www.twitter.com/ourgirlsau

  • Burkina Faso Launches AU Campaign to End Child Marriage in Africa
    March 03, 2015

    Dori, Burkina Faso, 03 March 2015 – “Ending child marriage requires multi sectorial platforms to create synergy between activities and to capitalize on results,” says His Excellency, Colonel Isaac Zida, Prime minister of Burkina Faso.

    In his remarks, the Prime Minister noted that customary and formal legal systems may equally define and govern marriage; however, customary rules for determining maturity and readiness to marry have often promoted child marriage. Child marriage is a harmful practice and a violation of human rights that deprives girls of their rights to health, education, to live in security, and to choose if, when and whom to marry. He welcomed the African Union Campaign to End Child Marriage in Africa and affirmed the commitment of the Government of Burkina Faso in ending child marriage.

    “For girls to grow and contribute productively to the socio-economic development of their societies, Education must be prioritized and this must be backed by continuous advocacy and enlightenment campaigns within communities about the negative consequences of child marriage and other harmful practices which demean the girl child,” said the AUC Director of Social Affairs, Amb. Olawale Maiyegun. He also noted that child marriage under the African Children’s Charter, violates all four cardinal principles of child rights and a number of other rights protected under the Charter. The foundational ethos of the Charter is that a child occupies a unique and privileged position in the African society and is entitled to grow up in a family environment of happiness, love and understanding.

    As a buildup to national launch of the campaign, a Town Hall Meeting of community, religious and traditional leaders was held on 2nd March 2015. The well attended Town Hall Meeting which witnessed a massive town out of citizens of from various communities was hosted by the Minister of Social Action and National Solidarity of the Republic of Burkina Faso, Honourable Mme Nicole YELEMOU ZAN, who did not fail in asserting that children (especially the girl child) must be protected and given the chance to grow and be well educated in order to become responsible and productive members of society.

    Mme YELEMOU ZAN highlighted the Government of Burkina Faso’s commitment to addressing the harmful practice of child marriage its tenacity in ensuring that the perpetrators of child marriage are brought to justice. She noted that ending child marriage is a collective effort and thanked the African Union Commission and all collaborating partners, especially UNICEF and Plan International for their effort and support to the Government of Burkina Faso towards ending child marriage. She concluded by also thanking religious and traditional leaders for their commitments to end child marriage in their respective communities.

    About the AU Campaign to End Child Marriage in Africa
    The campaign was launched at the continental level in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 29 May, 2014, during the Conference of Ministers of Social Development. It aims at ending child marriage by: (i) supporting legal and policy actions in the protection and promotion of human rights, (ii) mobilizing continental awareness of the negative socio-economic impact of child marriage, (iii) building social movement and social mobilization at the grassroots and national levels; and (iv) increasing the capacity of non-state actors to undertake evidence based policy advocacy including the role of youth leadership through new media technology, monitoring and evaluation among others.

    End ###

    For further information, please contact

    Ms. Nena Thundu; THUNDUN@africa-union.org
    Mr. Kenneth Oliko; Kennetho@africa-union.org
    pages.au.int/cecm | www.facebook.com/OurGirlsAfrika | www.twitter.com/ourgirlsau

  • Working Breakfast Meeting of AUC Campaign to End Child Marriage in Africa, African First Ladies and Heads of State and Government
    January 30, 2015

    Press Release on Working Breakfast Meeting of AUC Campaign to End Child Marriage in Africa, African First Ladies and Heads of State and Government

    Africa Vows: “We must win the Battle by 2020 with Zero Cases of Early Marriage!” - His Excellency, The President of Chad, Mr. Idriss Deby Itno

    Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 30 January 2015: African Union Heads of State and Government and African First Ladies on the ‘AU Campaign to End Child Marriage in Africa’ gathered this morning for key breakfast meeting on accelerating efforts to end child marriage. The event, which was hosted by His Excellency, the President of Chad, Mr. Idriss Deby Itno and the First Lady of Chad, Mme Hinda Deby Itno, focused on mobilizing continental awareness of the campaign, build on recent achievement and make greater strides to prevent the harmful effects of child marriage in Africa

    Child marriage is a social problem and a humanitarian problem according to His Excellency, the President of Chad, Mr. Idriss Deby Itno. He called upon all those concerned and especially the First Ladies of the AU Member States to be front runners in changing the continent and win the battle by 2020 with zero cases of early marriage. He stated that Africa should uphold positive values of traditional society and say “No!” to negative values such as child marriage, female genital mutilations and same sex marriages.

    H.E. Mme Hinda Deby Itno the first lady of Chad admonished the practice stating that early child marriage caused early pregnancies which would lead to death. “Eliminating early marriages allows young girls to fully develop and contribute to the community”, she added. She urged heads of state and decision makers to spearhead a sensitization campaign at both national and family level to end the practice.
    H.E. Mr. Hailemariam Dessalegn, Prime Minister of the Federal Republic of Ethiopia outlined the steps that the country had undertaken to end child marriages. He noted that Ethiopia is the first country to launch the campaign to End Child Marriage at a national level followed by Niger. He underscored that the campaign requires strong political will, needs to start at the political level and called for strong political will and commitment.

    H.E. Dr. Mustapha Sidiki Kaloko in his opening speech said: “the campaign is set to face challenges as entrenched traditional practices and ideas embedded in the mindset of a people are hard to decay or be extracted easily. But our focus on the prospects- the prospects of a better and brighter future for the girl child, is more convincing and a greater weapon than the challenges of pulling us back into the abyss of an age old and nefarious tradition that has no future for the girl child.”

    H.E. Dr. Kaloko’s speech heralded hope that the challenges should not hold the continent back, he noted: “It is our hope that countries where the practice is prevalent, would view the campaign as an opportunity to harmonize their national laws in line with regional, continental and international instruments on the rights of the child. Moreover, we hope that member states will seize the opportunity to ensure the enactment of laws against the practice as well as step up measures to punish perpetrators who find pleasure in destroying the innocence and the future of the girl child.”
    Real life testimonies of victims of early child marriage were heard during the event.

    About AU Campaign To End Child Marriage in Africa:
    The historic Campaign to End Child Marriage in Africa was launched on 29 May, 2014 during the 4th AU Conference of Ministers of Social Development. The main aim of the Campaign is to accelerate and invigorate the movement to end child marriage by:
    a. Supporting national policy actions in the protection and promotion of human rights, especially with a view to addressing violence against girls and women and promoting gender equitable social norms;
    b. Mobilizing continental awareness of and engagement to end child marriage,
    c. Supporting the removal barriers and bottlenecks to law enforcement to prosecute perpetrators of child marriage,
    d. Increasing the capacity of non-state actors to undertake evidence based policy advocacy and enhancing the participation of young people through new media technologies, monitoring and evaluation among others

  • The Republic of Niger Launches AU Campaign to End Child Marriage in Africa
    December 10, 2014

    The Republic of Niger Launches AU Campaign to End Child Marriage in Africa

    Removing barriers and bottlenecks to law enforcement will help protect and promote the human rights of girls and women

    Niamey, Niger, 12 December 2014 – “We have come to the realization that our determination towards a holistic approach to the rapid socio-economic development would not be achieved if we continue to under-estimate the role of our girls and women,” says His Excellency, Mr. Albade Abouba, the Minister of State for the President.

    “Undoubtedly, child marriage is a harmful practice which severely affects the rights of a child and further deprives the child from attaining other aspirations like education. Niger has one of the highest rates of child marriage in Africa. The statistics is not in any way pleasant and needless for me to continue to highlight the terrible effect it has, not just on the girl child but on the entire society and our fast developing country,” he said at the occasion to mark the official launch of the African Union Campaign to End Child Marriage in the Republic of Niger, on 10 December, 2014, at the Hotel Gaweye in Niamey, Niger.

    The Minister reaffirmed his government’s unwavering commitment to working with the African Union Commission and other development partners in ensuring the end of child marriage in Niger through policy action in the protection and promotion of human rights – especially that of girls and women, by removing barriers and bottlenecks to law enforcement, and ensuring that girl are enrolled as well as stay in school beyond primary level.

    “Changing of attitudes based on culture and traditions is not easy but with the right leadership and political will, stimulating the needed change to go beyond policies and laws, to implementation involving stakeholders at the national and community levels will see our countries redefining the narrative of what is now seemingly referred to as the backward continent,” said the AUC Commissioner for Social Affairs, in a statement read on his behalf by Amb. Olawale Maiyegun. He informed of the African Union Commission’s commitment to its Member States in realizing their development agendas.

    The AU Campaign to End Child Marriage launch in Niger represents a milestone event, not just for the country but for the continent where it is projected that if nothing is done in the next decade, 14.2 million girls under 18 years will be married every year, translating into 39,000 girls married each day. If this trend continues, the number of girls under 15 giving birth is expected to rise from 2 million to 3 million by 2030, in Africa.

    The event was attended by the African Union Director of Social Affairs, Amb. Olawale Maiyegun, the Mayor of Niamey, cabinet ministers, UN agencies, civil society organizations, and survivors of child marriage who shared their experiences after being married off as child brides. There were also musical performances and drama sketches on child marriage by school children.

    As part of activities around the launch, the AUC Director of Social Affairs met with Her Excellency, the First Lady of Niger, Dr Malika Issoufou. Impressed that Niger was finally launching the AU Campaign to End Child Marriage, she committed that as a follow up to the launch of the campaign in Niger, the Republic of Niger will host a conference to end child marriage with experts from countries with high prevalence of child marriage, partners and other key stakeholders from the 26th to 28th of November, 2015 for experience sharing and forging a way to accelerating an end to child marriage in Africa. She mentioned her continued support as a champion of the AU CARMMA campaign and expressed her gratitude to the African Union Commission for the support to the Ebola affected countries through the African Union Support to the Ebola Outbreak in West Africa (ASEOWA).

    About the AU Campaign to End Child Marriage in Africa
    The campaign was launched at the continental level in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 29 May, 2014, during the Conference of Ministers of Social Development. It aims at ending child marriage by: (i) supporting legal and policy actions in the protection and promotion of human rights, (ii) mobilizing continental awareness of the negative socio-economic impact of child marriage, (iii) building social movement and social mobilization at the grassroots and national levels; and (iv) increasing the capacity of non-state actors to undertake evidence based policy advocacy including the role of youth leadership through new media technology, monitoring and evaluation among others.

    End ###

    For further information, please contact

    Ms. Nena Thundu | Social Affairs | African Union Commission | Tel: 011 5518 22 80 | E-mail: THUNDUN@africa-union.org | #EndChildMarriageNow

    Mr. Kenneth Oliko | Social Affairs | African Union Commission | Tel: 011 5518 22 23 |
    E-mail: Kennetho@africa-union.org | #EndChildMarriageNow

    For further information contact
    Directorate of Information and Communication | African Union Commission I E-mail: dic@african-union.org I Web Site: www.au.int I Addis Ababa | Ethiopia

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  • Ford Foundation’s Child Marriage Partners Meeting
    October 19, 2014 to October 22, 2014

    Ford Foundation’s Child Marriage Partners Meeting
    Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
    October 19-October 22, 2014

    Meeting Objectives:
    Fostering cross-country and cross-region learning on combatting child marriage

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The African Union is committed to Strengthening a people centered Union through active communication of the programmes of the African Union, the branding of the Union and participation of Member States and other stakeholders in defining and implementing the African agenda.

  • African Girl’s Summit on Ending Child Marriage in Africa, Lusaka, Zambia
    November 26, 2015 to November 27, 2015

    African Girl’s Summit on Ending Child Marriage in Africa
    26 – 27 November 2015
    LUSAKA, ZAMBIA

  • Lusaka Hosts Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Capacity Building Workshop on Ending Child Marriage and other Harmful Traditional Practices in Africa
    September 07, 2015

    Lusaka Hosts Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Capacity Building Workshop on Ending Child Marriage and other Harmful Traditional Practices in Africa

    Lusaka, Zambia, 07 September 2015–A five-day workshop to build the capacity of African Union Member States to end Child Marriage kicked off today Monday 7 September 2015 in Lusaka, Zambia.

    The workshop organised by African Union Commission in conjunction with UNFPA, UNICEF, Inter-African Committee and the African Child Policy Forum, under theme; "Ending Child Marriage and other harmful traditional practices in Africa - Mechanisms and Strategies, is being attended by experts from Regional Economic Communities, Member States and regional based Civil Society Organizations.

    The workshop will feature among others theoretical presentations on the linkages of harmful traditional practices such as child marriage and female genital mutilation, the role of stakeholders and the effect of traditional and religious practices of child marriage on Africa’s socio-economic development.

    In his welcome remarks, the Zambian Minister of Chiefs and Traditional Affairs, Dr Joseph Katema M.P., expressed appreciation for the commitment shown by the African Union Member States towards the AU Campaign to End Child Marriage in Africa, noting that 'as concerned Africans, we are obliged to ensure that girls remain girls, not brides and enjoy their childhood manifested in education, play, good health and participation in social and cultural endeavors that are appropriate and relevant to their development'. The Minister charged all workshop participants to maximize the opportunity in coming up mechanisms and strategies that will reflect the noble cause of ending child marriage and other harmful traditional practices within the broader agenda of safe-guarding the life of children, especially the girl child.

    On behalf of the African Union Commission, Dr Johan Strijdom thanked the Government of Zambia for accepting to host the Regional Capacity Building Workshop stating that 'the Republic of Zambia offers evidence toward the
    Directorate of Information and Communication. African Union Commission

    commitment of African governments in ensuring that resolutions are instituted nationally as well as at a community level'. In a contemporary culture, where social volatility is a common occurrence, child marriage has become a dominant subject for debate. There needs to be continuous efforts to discover new directions in eradicating the practice and enhancing the prospects grounded in gender and development. Dr Strijdom affirmed that, “Girls and women have the right to live free from violence and discrimination and achieve their potential but are prevented due to being forced into child marriage.”

    A key component of the African Union Campaign to End Child Marriage in Africa is to enhance the capacity of Member States Experts, Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and Civil Society Organizations(CSOs) in dealing with the harmful practice of child marriage, thus making them suitable or better equipped to design and manage development plans in which social and economic policies and strategies are fully interfaced to deliver the kinds of transformative outcomes desired in ending child marriage and other harmful traditional practices affecting children in Africa.

    Child Marriage has negative effects on the girl, her family, the nation and the whole world and large. These girls are also exposed to a number of health disadvantages such as the risks of contracting HIV/AIDS, the risk of cervical cancer, pregnancy and child bearing complications and even death. These and other effects as well as how to better work towards ending them is what the series of regional based workshops seeks to address.
    About the AU Campaign to End Child Marriage in Africa

    The campaign was launched at the continental level in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 29 May 2014, during the Conference of Ministers of Social Development. It aims at ending child marriage by: (i) supporting legal and policy actions in the protection and promotion of human rights, (ii) mobilizing continental awareness of the negative socio-economic impact of child marriage, (iii) building social movement and social mobilization at the grassroots and national levels; and (iv) increasing the capacity of non-state actors to undertake evidence based policy advocacy including the role of youth leadership through new media technology, monitoring and evaluation among others.
    KO/EAT

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  • The Republic of Zimbabwe Launches AU Campaign to End Child Marriage in Africa
    August 02, 2015

    PRESS RELEASE

    The Republic of Zimbabwe Launches AU Campaign to End Child Marriage in Africa

    "Child molesters, pedophiles, and rapists should not be allowed to get away with lenient sentences such as community service. Child marriage is a tragedy for the girl child, her unborn children and her country's development"

    Harare, Zimbabwe, 31 July 2015 – “We have a crisis on our hands. The UN estimates that 15 million girls experience child marriage each year. That is more than the entire population of Zimbabwe. We must move from vulnerability to voice and leadership. Africa is young and full of innovation. This energy must be harnessed to ensure that we have lasting solutions", said Ms. Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda, the AU Goodwill Ambassador on Ending Child Marriage in Africa at the national launch of the AU Campaign to End Child Marriage in Africa which held at the Harare International Conference Centre, under the theme "We are Girls not Brides".

    Child marriage predominantly affects girls who live in poor and rural communities. The likelihood of girls being married off as children, stems largely from the lack of education and poverty. Zimbabwe has one of the highest rates of child marriage in Africa; with about 31% of Zimbabwean girls being married before their 18th birthday and another 4% before they turn 15.

    Speaking at the launch, His Excellency, Dr. Mustapha Sidiki Kaloko, the AU Commissioner for Social Affairs noted that the launch of the AU Campaign to End Child Marriage in Zimbabwe comes at a time when H.E. Cde Robert Mugabe is the sitting Chairperson of the African Union and furthers His Excellency's commitment not just to the theme of the African Union for 2015, i.e. Year of Women Empowerment and Development towards Agenda 2063, but also to issues affecting women and girls across the continent. This has also been evidenced in the way His Excellency was able to galvanize other Heads of States into adopting the African Common Position on Ending Child Marriage during the June 2015 Assembly of AU Heads of State and Government.

    The Republic of Zimbabwe is the 8th African Nation to launch the AU Campaign following national launches in Ethiopia, Niger, Burkina Faso, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar and Uganda. The Zimbabwean launch of the campaign also comes at a critical time when the country was recently under the global lens following a statement by Prosecutor-General Mr. Johannes Tomana on the age of sexual consent. This sparked a public outcry and accentuated the need for a nationwide campaign that tackles the harmful practice of child marriage with the focus of highlighting the consequences of allowing the perpetuation of the practice.

    In her keynote address, Zimbabwe’s First Lady, Dr. Grace Mugabe called on all Zimbabwean daughters to fight against the sentencing of girls to a lifetime of violation. She pleaded with girls not to be threatened into being married off but to strive for a better life; making education their first love. The First Lady also called on the Ministry of Justice to harmonize all laws on the age of marriage to 18 years as stipulated by the constitution and apply stiffer penalties and sentencing of violators. "Child molesters, pedophiles, and rapists should not be allowed to get away with lenient sentences such as community service. Child marriage is a tragedy for the girl child, her unborn children and her country's development", she affirmed. Dr. Mugabe also received the petition of the child parliamentarians and called on all Cabinet Ministers to jointly work towards a national action plan on ending child marriage in Zimbabwe.

    The event was attended by the Zimbabwean Senate President, Hon. Edna Madzongwe, the Speaker of Parliament, Hon. Advocate Jacob Mudenda, Members of Senate and Parliament, Cabinet Ministers who all joined their voices to calling for an end to child marriages. Speaking on behalf of the UN agencies, the Resident Coordinator and Country Director for UNICEF, Mr Reza Hossani called on all stakeholders to reject social norms and break the cultural silence that continues to hide these violations of the rights of vulnerable children.

    About the AU Campaign to End Child Marriage in Africa

    The campaign was launched at the continental level in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 29 May 2014, during the Conference of Ministers of Social Development. It aims at ending child marriage by: (i) supporting legal and policy actions in the protection and promotion of human rights, (ii) mobilizing continental awareness of the negative socio-economic impact of child marriage, (iii) building social movement and social mobilization at the grassroots and national levels; and (iv) increasing the capacity of non-state actors to undertake evidence based policy advocacy including the role of youth leadership through new media technology, monitoring and evaluation among others.

    End ###

    For further information, please contact

    Ms. Nena Thundu; THUNDUN@africa-union.org

    Mr. Kenneth Oliko; Kennetho@africa-union.org

    pages.au.int/cecm | www.facebook.com/OurGirlsAfrika| www.twitter.com/ourgirlsau

    Directorate of Information and Communication

    Directorate of Information and Communication | Information and Communication | African Union Commission
    Tel: +251-11-5517700 | Fax: | E-mail: DIC@africa-union.org | Web:www.au.int

    Addis Ababa | Ethiopia

  • The Republic of South Africa Celebrates the 25th Year of the Adoption of the Day of the African Child
    June 15, 2015

    The Republic of South Africa Celebrates the 25th Year of the Adoption of the Day of the African Child

    The Day of the African Child 2015 under the theme “25 years after the adoption of the African Children’s Charter: Accelerating our Collective Efforts to End Child Marriage in Africa”

    Johannesburg, South Africa: 15 June 2015- The Day of the African Child (DAC) is commemorated every year on 16 June by Member States of the African Union (AU), to acknowledge the students of the 1976 Soweto Uprising – a day that contributed greatly to the eventual collapse of the apartheid regime. The day commemorates the violent action inflicted by police officials towardsunarmed school children, protesting against the unjust apartheid education system. The DAC also offers the opportunity for stakeholders across all spheres - governments, international institutions and communities - to address the rights of children as well as a continental awareness of the obstacles for attaining these rights. DAC 2015 commemorated the 25th Anniversary of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC) and was dedicated towardsthe AU Commission’s commitment tothe eliminationof child marriage in Africa.

    The DAC celebrations were aimed at: drawing emphasis toward the negative impact of child marriage and the advantageous outcomes of ending the practice. The fostering of an open discussion and greater awareness by stakeholders - at community, national, regional and continental level - in order to enhance and heighten efforts to accelerate the end of this practice. The need for best practices on ending child marriage in Africa was also highlighted at the tribute, as well as the need to provide a platform for advancing children’s participation in ending child marriage.

    Further objectives of DAC 2015 included provision for visibility and advocacy as well as the support of youth projects to end child marriage in AU Member States, as such, stressing the importance of the collaboration of various actors to have more influence on advancing children’s rights.

    DAC 2015 was a two day event, on 14th and 15th June 2015, which included a workshop for 100 children on 14 June. The children who participated in the event came from several member states such as Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The workshop was aimed at the development of a joint statement to be presented by the children at the beginning of the program. The workshop also included the objective of developing clear questions to guide the children during the Inter- Generational Dialogue and finally develop the Declaration for the Day of the African Child 2015.

    A number of partners facilitated the workshop, which included DSA-AUC,ACERWC, UNICEF, PLAN and UNFPA.The workshop started off with the introduction of the agenda and objectives of the event, as well as the impact and principles of participation from children to foster child rights and end child marriage.
    The second day of the commemoratory eventon 15 June commenced with a march from the Mandela House to the Hector Peterson Memorial Museumto honour the legacy of the children of the 1976 Soweto Uprising. The march was attended bychild representatives, RSA Government officials, the AUC, partners from UN and CSOs as well the community around Soweto. Upon reaching the Museum, Ms Faith Mazibuko from the Department of Social Development, Gauteng Province, RSA gave some welcoming remarks to set the tone of the event. To allow for a greater understanding of the commemoration, Ms NomsaMtshweni of the Department of Social Affairs Mpumalanga Province, RSA gave the background and context of June 16. To celebrate the lives and efforts of school children of the Soweto Uprising, Minister Bathabile Dlamini and 39 children, to mark 39 years for June 16, laid wreaths.

    Appeals presented at DAC 2015 to ensure the eradication of child marriage This mission in Soweto (South Africa) on the 14 of June 2015, represented by the children of Africa, reiterated the effect of child marriage on the continent, and offered several requests to our governments, parents, guardians, communities, African Union and United Nations. The governments of Member states were implored to enact the laws that say no one will force a girl child into child marriage. The need for an in depth discussion or dialogue between parents and the governments about child marriage served as another key request brought forward by the children of Africa. The African child asked of its governments to facilitate the building of centers or safe havens for child marriage survivors. It is essential that the impact and importance of education be highlighted, and the children asked of our governments to provide them with schools, and offer encouragement for children to complete their education. Essentially, the governments of our African continent were requested to introduceprogrammes for children to enable them to express themselves,and ultimately, create laws and legislation that say NO! to child marriage.

    The child participants at the DAC voiced themselves towards their parents, guardians and their community to ensure open discussion sessions as well as allow for the opportunityfor children to express themselves and provide protection, security and education for their children.

    The children also requested the African Union and the United Nations, as key bodies, to develop model policies to declare a person who infects a child with HIV during child marriage, condemned a third degree criminal. The United Nations was requested to offer increased protection toward young girls, in order to prevent them from being married off to older men.Knowledge, such as statistic on child marriage is crucial, and the African Union should communicate with health care services in Member States to get such statistics.

    The child participants ultimately highlighted that with active participation and involvement from all platforms, organizations, civil society, governments, communities, structures and the children; as well as continental awareness, Africa may see the elimination of child marriage.

    For further information, please contact
    Ms. Nena Thundu | Social Affairs | African Union Commission | Tel: 011 5518 22 80 | Email:
    THUNDUN@africa-union.org | #EndChildMarriageNow
    Mr. Kenneth Oliko | Social Affairs | African Union Commission | Tel: 011 5518 22 23 |
    E-mail: Kennetho@africa-union.org | #EndChildMarriageNow

  • The Republic of Madagascar Launches AU Campaign to End Child Marriage in Africa
    June 02, 2015

    Antananarivo, 02 June 2015 – “It is important to respect human rights particularly the rights of the child as a main component in the efforts against this harmful practice and Madagascar cannot progress unless we seriously address child marriage which is an impediment to our development" says Her Excellency, Mrs. Vohangy Rajaonarimampianina, First Lady of the Republic of Madagascar.

    In her remarks, the First Lady noted that Madagascar has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world, with devastating effects on the lives of the girls affected. There has been a downward trend in the rate of child marriage in Madagascar, following the law passed in 2007, setting the marriageable age at 18 for girls and boys alike. Previously, girls could be married at 14 and boys at 17. However, child marriage is still common, especially in rural areas where traditional marriage ceremonies are common; mostly backed by age long and strong affinity to social and cultural norms. Her Excellency stressed her full commitment that her office will continue to lead with stakeholders in ending child marriage in Madagascar by also strengthening the national policy to end child marriage.

    Recent findings show that nearly half of all Malagasy women (48 per cent) aged 20-24 were married or cohabiting before the age of 18. One in nine girls are married by the age of 15 years. Child marriage has several harmful effects on the overall wellbeing of young girls who are not psychologically, emotionally and physically ready for conjugal life. It increases the probability of having children at a younger age, which increases the risk of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, maternal mortality and obstetric fistula. Complications of pregnancy and childbearing are the leading cause of death for girls 15-19 in Madagascar.

    The launch of the campaign in Madagascar provides an opportunity to further the resolve of the government to continue working with partners, the police, policymakers, women’s associations, local communities and traditional leaders in order to raise awareness on and end gender-based violence, including child marriage. "We will encourage the need for providing girls the chance to be well educated and also the protection of girls who have already been married from abuse within the marriage", said the UNFPA resident representative- Mr Mamadou Dicko

    The launch of the campaign which took place in Antananarivo with the official launch in the morning and panel discussion on ending child marriage in the afternoon, was also attended by Government representatives from different Ministries including the lead Ministry on the child marriage Campaign- Ministry of Population, Social Protection and Gender, members of communities affected by child marriage, representatives from the AU Commission, UNFPA, UNICEF and civil society partners. There were musical performances by the children and youth cultural groups, all focusing attention on the harmful tradition practice of children marriage. The closing remark was given by the Prime Minister- Mr Jean Ravelonarivo he reinforced the need for collective action and commitment by all attending stakeholders to end child marriage in Madagascar and work towards provision of equal opportunities to both boys and girls as they are the backbone of the country’s human capital. The Campaign was launched with a brief statement of commitment to ending child marriage in Madagascar by H.E. First Lady.

    About the AU Campaign to End Child Marriage in Africa.

    The campaign was launched at the continental level in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 29 May, 2014, during the Conference of Ministers of Social Development. It aims at ending child marriage by: (i) supporting legal and policy actions in the protection and promotion of human rights, (ii) mobilizing continental awareness of the negative socio-economic impact of child marriage, (iii) building social movement and social mobilization at the grassroots and national levels; and (iv) increasing the capacity of non-state actors to undertake evidence based policy advocacy including the role of youth leadership through new media technology, monitoring and evaluation among others.

    End ###
    For further information, please contact
    Ms. Nena Thundu; THUNDUN@africa-union.org
    Mr. Kenneth Oliko; Kennetho@africa-union.org
    pages.au.int/cecm | www.facebook.com/OurGirlsAfrika | www.twitter.com/ourgirlsau

  • Burkina Faso Launches AU Campaign to End Child Marriage in Africa
    March 03, 2015

    Dori, Burkina Faso, 03 March 2015 – “Ending child marriage requires multi sectorial platforms to create synergy between activities and to capitalize on results,” says His Excellency, Colonel Isaac Zida, Prime minister of Burkina Faso.

    In his remarks, the Prime Minister noted that customary and formal legal systems may equally define and govern marriage; however, customary rules for determining maturity and readiness to marry have often promoted child marriage. Child marriage is a harmful practice and a violation of human rights that deprives girls of their rights to health, education, to live in security, and to choose if, when and whom to marry. He welcomed the African Union Campaign to End Child Marriage in Africa and affirmed the commitment of the Government of Burkina Faso in ending child marriage.

    “For girls to grow and contribute productively to the socio-economic development of their societies, Education must be prioritized and this must be backed by continuous advocacy and enlightenment campaigns within communities about the negative consequences of child marriage and other harmful practices which demean the girl child,” said the AUC Director of Social Affairs, Amb. Olawale Maiyegun. He also noted that child marriage under the African Children’s Charter, violates all four cardinal principles of child rights and a number of other rights protected under the Charter. The foundational ethos of the Charter is that a child occupies a unique and privileged position in the African society and is entitled to grow up in a family environment of happiness, love and understanding.

    As a buildup to national launch of the campaign, a Town Hall Meeting of community, religious and traditional leaders was held on 2nd March 2015. The well attended Town Hall Meeting which witnessed a massive town out of citizens of from various communities was hosted by the Minister of Social Action and National Solidarity of the Republic of Burkina Faso, Honourable Mme Nicole YELEMOU ZAN, who did not fail in asserting that children (especially the girl child) must be protected and given the chance to grow and be well educated in order to become responsible and productive members of society.

    Mme YELEMOU ZAN highlighted the Government of Burkina Faso’s commitment to addressing the harmful practice of child marriage its tenacity in ensuring that the perpetrators of child marriage are brought to justice. She noted that ending child marriage is a collective effort and thanked the African Union Commission and all collaborating partners, especially UNICEF and Plan International for their effort and support to the Government of Burkina Faso towards ending child marriage. She concluded by also thanking religious and traditional leaders for their commitments to end child marriage in their respective communities.

    About the AU Campaign to End Child Marriage in Africa
    The campaign was launched at the continental level in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 29 May, 2014, during the Conference of Ministers of Social Development. It aims at ending child marriage by: (i) supporting legal and policy actions in the protection and promotion of human rights, (ii) mobilizing continental awareness of the negative socio-economic impact of child marriage, (iii) building social movement and social mobilization at the grassroots and national levels; and (iv) increasing the capacity of non-state actors to undertake evidence based policy advocacy including the role of youth leadership through new media technology, monitoring and evaluation among others.

    End ###

    For further information, please contact

    Ms. Nena Thundu; THUNDUN@africa-union.org
    Mr. Kenneth Oliko; Kennetho@africa-union.org
    pages.au.int/cecm | www.facebook.com/OurGirlsAfrika | www.twitter.com/ourgirlsau

  • Working Breakfast Meeting of AUC Campaign to End Child Marriage in Africa, African First Ladies and Heads of State and Government
    January 30, 2015

    Press Release on Working Breakfast Meeting of AUC Campaign to End Child Marriage in Africa, African First Ladies and Heads of State and Government

    Africa Vows: “We must win the Battle by 2020 with Zero Cases of Early Marriage!” - His Excellency, The President of Chad, Mr. Idriss Deby Itno

    Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 30 January 2015: African Union Heads of State and Government and African First Ladies on the ‘AU Campaign to End Child Marriage in Africa’ gathered this morning for key breakfast meeting on accelerating efforts to end child marriage. The event, which was hosted by His Excellency, the President of Chad, Mr. Idriss Deby Itno and the First Lady of Chad, Mme Hinda Deby Itno, focused on mobilizing continental awareness of the campaign, build on recent achievement and make greater strides to prevent the harmful effects of child marriage in Africa

    Child marriage is a social problem and a humanitarian problem according to His Excellency, the President of Chad, Mr. Idriss Deby Itno. He called upon all those concerned and especially the First Ladies of the AU Member States to be front runners in changing the continent and win the battle by 2020 with zero cases of early marriage. He stated that Africa should uphold positive values of traditional society and say “No!” to negative values such as child marriage, female genital mutilations and same sex marriages.

    H.E. Mme Hinda Deby Itno the first lady of Chad admonished the practice stating that early child marriage caused early pregnancies which would lead to death. “Eliminating early marriages allows young girls to fully develop and contribute to the community”, she added. She urged heads of state and decision makers to spearhead a sensitization campaign at both national and family level to end the practice.
    H.E. Mr. Hailemariam Dessalegn, Prime Minister of the Federal Republic of Ethiopia outlined the steps that the country had undertaken to end child marriages. He noted that Ethiopia is the first country to launch the campaign to End Child Marriage at a national level followed by Niger. He underscored that the campaign requires strong political will, needs to start at the political level and called for strong political will and commitment.

    H.E. Dr. Mustapha Sidiki Kaloko in his opening speech said: “the campaign is set to face challenges as entrenched traditional practices and ideas embedded in the mindset of a people are hard to decay or be extracted easily. But our focus on the prospects- the prospects of a better and brighter future for the girl child, is more convincing and a greater weapon than the challenges of pulling us back into the abyss of an age old and nefarious tradition that has no future for the girl child.”

    H.E. Dr. Kaloko’s speech heralded hope that the challenges should not hold the continent back, he noted: “It is our hope that countries where the practice is prevalent, would view the campaign as an opportunity to harmonize their national laws in line with regional, continental and international instruments on the rights of the child. Moreover, we hope that member states will seize the opportunity to ensure the enactment of laws against the practice as well as step up measures to punish perpetrators who find pleasure in destroying the innocence and the future of the girl child.”
    Real life testimonies of victims of early child marriage were heard during the event.

    About AU Campaign To End Child Marriage in Africa:
    The historic Campaign to End Child Marriage in Africa was launched on 29 May, 2014 during the 4th AU Conference of Ministers of Social Development. The main aim of the Campaign is to accelerate and invigorate the movement to end child marriage by:
    a. Supporting national policy actions in the protection and promotion of human rights, especially with a view to addressing violence against girls and women and promoting gender equitable social norms;
    b. Mobilizing continental awareness of and engagement to end child marriage,
    c. Supporting the removal barriers and bottlenecks to law enforcement to prosecute perpetrators of child marriage,
    d. Increasing the capacity of non-state actors to undertake evidence based policy advocacy and enhancing the participation of young people through new media technologies, monitoring and evaluation among others

  • The Republic of Niger Launches AU Campaign to End Child Marriage in Africa
    December 10, 2014

    The Republic of Niger Launches AU Campaign to End Child Marriage in Africa

    Removing barriers and bottlenecks to law enforcement will help protect and promote the human rights of girls and women

    Niamey, Niger, 12 December 2014 – “We have come to the realization that our determination towards a holistic approach to the rapid socio-economic development would not be achieved if we continue to under-estimate the role of our girls and women,” says His Excellency, Mr. Albade Abouba, the Minister of State for the President.

    “Undoubtedly, child marriage is a harmful practice which severely affects the rights of a child and further deprives the child from attaining other aspirations like education. Niger has one of the highest rates of child marriage in Africa. The statistics is not in any way pleasant and needless for me to continue to highlight the terrible effect it has, not just on the girl child but on the entire society and our fast developing country,” he said at the occasion to mark the official launch of the African Union Campaign to End Child Marriage in the Republic of Niger, on 10 December, 2014, at the Hotel Gaweye in Niamey, Niger.

    The Minister reaffirmed his government’s unwavering commitment to working with the African Union Commission and other development partners in ensuring the end of child marriage in Niger through policy action in the protection and promotion of human rights – especially that of girls and women, by removing barriers and bottlenecks to law enforcement, and ensuring that girl are enrolled as well as stay in school beyond primary level.

    “Changing of attitudes based on culture and traditions is not easy but with the right leadership and political will, stimulating the needed change to go beyond policies and laws, to implementation involving stakeholders at the national and community levels will see our countries redefining the narrative of what is now seemingly referred to as the backward continent,” said the AUC Commissioner for Social Affairs, in a statement read on his behalf by Amb. Olawale Maiyegun. He informed of the African Union Commission’s commitment to its Member States in realizing their development agendas.

    The AU Campaign to End Child Marriage launch in Niger represents a milestone event, not just for the country but for the continent where it is projected that if nothing is done in the next decade, 14.2 million girls under 18 years will be married every year, translating into 39,000 girls married each day. If this trend continues, the number of girls under 15 giving birth is expected to rise from 2 million to 3 million by 2030, in Africa.

    The event was attended by the African Union Director of Social Affairs, Amb. Olawale Maiyegun, the Mayor of Niamey, cabinet ministers, UN agencies, civil society organizations, and survivors of child marriage who shared their experiences after being married off as child brides. There were also musical performances and drama sketches on child marriage by school children.

    As part of activities around the launch, the AUC Director of Social Affairs met with Her Excellency, the First Lady of Niger, Dr Malika Issoufou. Impressed that Niger was finally launching the AU Campaign to End Child Marriage, she committed that as a follow up to the launch of the campaign in Niger, the Republic of Niger will host a conference to end child marriage with experts from countries with high prevalence of child marriage, partners and other key stakeholders from the 26th to 28th of November, 2015 for experience sharing and forging a way to accelerating an end to child marriage in Africa. She mentioned her continued support as a champion of the AU CARMMA campaign and expressed her gratitude to the African Union Commission for the support to the Ebola affected countries through the African Union Support to the Ebola Outbreak in West Africa (ASEOWA).

    About the AU Campaign to End Child Marriage in Africa
    The campaign was launched at the continental level in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 29 May, 2014, during the Conference of Ministers of Social Development. It aims at ending child marriage by: (i) supporting legal and policy actions in the protection and promotion of human rights, (ii) mobilizing continental awareness of the negative socio-economic impact of child marriage, (iii) building social movement and social mobilization at the grassroots and national levels; and (iv) increasing the capacity of non-state actors to undertake evidence based policy advocacy including the role of youth leadership through new media technology, monitoring and evaluation among others.

    End ###

    For further information, please contact

    Ms. Nena Thundu | Social Affairs | African Union Commission | Tel: 011 5518 22 80 | E-mail: THUNDUN@africa-union.org | #EndChildMarriageNow

    Mr. Kenneth Oliko | Social Affairs | African Union Commission | Tel: 011 5518 22 23 |
    E-mail: Kennetho@africa-union.org | #EndChildMarriageNow

    For further information contact
    Directorate of Information and Communication | African Union Commission I E-mail: dic@african-union.org I Web Site: www.au.int I Addis Ababa | Ethiopia

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  • Ford Foundation’s Child Marriage Partners Meeting
    October 19, 2014 to October 22, 2014

    Ford Foundation’s Child Marriage Partners Meeting
    Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
    October 19-October 22, 2014

    Meeting Objectives:
    Fostering cross-country and cross-region learning on combatting child marriage