In order to effectively tackle poverty and achieve gender equality, we must prioritise ending child marriage both in this region and globally. When girls have a childhood, and delay marriage and childbirth, we see a positive cycle. They continue and complete their education. They secure sustainable employment. And they have fewer, healthier children.
We are at a critical moment. Failure to act will result in increasing number of girls and boys facing a lifelong cycle of poverty. This will have devastating consequences not only for these children, but also for the entire world.
Every seven seconds, a girl under the age of 15 is married. Moreover, six of the top 10 countries with the highest prevalence of child marriage in the world are in West and Central Africa. 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 the first 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.
The High-Level Meeting on Ending Child Marriage in West and Central Africa will:
Build momentum on ending child marriage as an important issue on the development agenda in West and Central Africa,
Strengthen the region’s alignment with commitments made at the continental level through the African Union Agenda 2063 and Common Position on Ending Child Marriage, and at the global level through the Sustainable Development Goals.
Enhance governments and other actors’ understanding of child marriage in West and Central Africa - of its causes and its impact on the realisation of girls’ potential and on the wider development of the region.
Recognise existing progress and solutions, and provide a platform for sharing and learning from successes and challenges in implementing policies and programmes to end child marriage.
A regional coalition, bringing together Save the Children, UNICEF, UNFPA, UN Women, World Vision, Plan International, Girls Not Brides, the Forum for African Women Educationalists, Women in Law and Development in Africa and Women in Law & Development in Africa, is working to co-organise this meeting.
Save the Children
Mike Sunderland, Regional Media Manager
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