PRESS RELEASE:

17 October 2017

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Ministère de la Bonne Gouvernance et de la Protection de l’Enfance

INTERNATIONAL MOBILISATION AGAINST CHILD MARRIAGE IN AFRICA

Senegal and the international community confirm their commitment to ending child marriage in West and Central Africa.

From 23rd to 25th October 2017, Dakar will host a High-Level Meeting (HLM) on ending child marriage in West and Central Africa. The meeting will be held at the King Fahd Palace Hotel.

Child marriage has become a scourge. It affects nearly 15 million girls worldwide and violates girls’ rights to education and health. The West and Central Africa region has the highest prevalence rates in Africa and the second highest in the world (behind South Asia). The five most affected countries in the world are in this region, with prevalence rates of 76% in Niger; 68% in the Central African Republic and Chad; 55% in Mali and 52% in the Republic of Guinea.

In Senegal, the prevalence rate for child marriage is 32%. If current trends continue, nearly half of all married girls will be African by 2050.

Organised by the Government of Senegal, the meeting is in line with the African Union political agenda to end child marriage on the continent. It is supported by a coalition of organisations from the United Nations system (UNICEF, UNFPA, UNWomen) and civil society (Save the Children International, Girls Not Brides, FAWE, World Vision International, WiLDAF and Plan International.)

The High-Level Meeting aims to reinforce the efforts undertaken in recent years to end child marriage in West and Central Africa. It will bring together representatives of West and Central African governments, civil society, community and religious leaders, youth and donor representatives in order to discuss issues, solutions and to commit to bringing about change.

The meeting will also be a platform and space for dialogue between the actors and decision makers in West and Central Africa and will aim to create a consensus on what it will take to translate existing and future commitments into tangible and measurable actions to end child marriage in the region.

The specific objectives of the meeting will be to:

• Build momentum on ending child marriage as an important issue on the development agenda in West and Central Africa, and 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.

Held under the patronage of His Excellency the President of the Republic of Senegal the meeting awaits several distinguished guests including: First Lady of Sierra Leone Her Excellency Sia Nyama Koroma, Crown Princess of Denmark HRH Princess Mary, ECOWAS Commissioner Fatimata Dia Sow, Special Rapporteur of the African Union on Child Marriage Ms. Marie Christine Bocoum , Ministers for Social Affairs from throughout West and Central Africa, the Chief Executive Officer of Save the Children International and former Prime Minister of Denmark Helle Thorning- Schmidt, Princess of Netherlands and Chair of Girls Not Brides Mabel van Oranje, Plan International CEO Anne-Brigitte Albrectsen, and UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Fatoumata Ndiaye.

For more information please visit the event website:  http://www.endingchildmarriage.com

Media inquiries may be addressed to:

Government:

Ministry of Good Governance and Child Protection

Civil society:

Mike Sunderland, Regional Media Manager, Save the Children International. Mobile +221 77

155 92 34 Mike.sunderland@savethechildren.org

United Nations:

Fatou Binetou Dia, Communications Officer, External Communication and Public Advocacy, UNICEF Mobile +221 77 655 44 16  fbdia@unicef.org


PRESS RELEASE

23 OCTOBER 2017

High-level meeting aims to urgently accelerate action to end child marriage in West and Central Africa

Hosted by the Government of Senegal, the High-Level Meeting on Ending Child Marriage brings together key actors to agree on tangible steps toward ending the practice for good.

Dakar 23rd October 2017 Ministers, first ladies, United Nations agencies, civil society, religious and traditional leaders, youth groups and other key actors from across West and Central Africa gather in Dakar, Senegal from 23 to 25 October 2017, to strengthen their commitments to ending child marriage and agree on tangible and measurable steps towards eliminating the practice in the region.

Whilst some encouraging progress towards ending child marriage has been made, the region is still home to six of the ten countries with the highest rates worldwide.

The High-Level Meeting on Ending Child Marriage in West and Central Africa brings together, for the first time in the region, many key actors, to create a consensus on what it will take to translate existing and future commitments into measurable actions to end the practice for good.

On behalf of the Government of Senegal, Minister for Good Governance and Child Protection, Her Excellency Mrs. Rahmatoulaye Guèye Diop, said:

“The Government of Senegal is delighted to welcome these key actors from across the region and the world and confirms its commitment to ending child marriage in West and Central Africa.”

On behalf of the United Nations agencies, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Mrs. Fatoumata Ndiaye, said:

“Ending child marriage in Africa is possible but time is running out. Unless we accelerate our efforts at all levels, especially at community level, millions of children will become child brides, compromising their health, education, childhood. We need to act now."

On behalf of civil society, Save the Children International Chief Executive Helle Thorning-Schmidt said:

“This week, leaders are gathering in Dakar to step up the fight to end child marriage. We are here to stop millions of girls being robbed of their childhoods. Together with governments, religious and community leaders, civil society and development partners, we hope to agree on meaningful actions to end child marriage for good.”

Child marriage is a severe violation of human rights affecting almost 15 million girls worldwide each year. It robs girls of their childhood, puts them at risk of physical and sexual violence, often forces them to drop-out of school and frequently leads to early pregnancy.

There has been a growing recognition of the need to end child marriage, including a specific target within the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as well as the roll-out of the African Union Campaign to End Child Marriage in Africa. Earlier in October, fifteen member states from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have adopted a regional child protection framework which will help to create safety nets to prevent, protect and support girls who are at risk of child marriage as well as girls already married. 

The meeting, officially opened by Prime Minister of the Republic of Senegal, His Excellency Mr. Mahammed Boun Abdallah Dionne, has participants from all sectors including First Ladies of Sierra Leone and Burkina Faso, ministers and senior government officials from 25 countries across West and Central Africa, Fatoumata Ndiaye, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director; Fatimata Dia Sow, ECOWAS Commissioner; Ms. Marie Christine Bocoum Special Rapporteur of the African Union on Child Marriage; Helle Thorning-Schmidt, Chief Executive Officer of Save the Children International and former Prime Minister of Denmark; Her Royal Highness Princess Mabel van Oranje and Chair of Girls Not Brides; Anne-Brigitte Albrectsen, Plan International Chief Executive Officer; Professor Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang, Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE) Africa Board Chair and former Minister of Education of Ghana, , and Mabingue Ngom, UNFPA Regional Director.

Hosted by the Government of Senegal, the meeting is organized with support from a regional coalition of civil society organisations (Forum for African Women Educationalists; Girls Not Brides; Plan International; Save the Children International; Women in Law and Development in Africa and World Vision International) and the United Nations agencies (UNFPA, UNICEF and UN WOMEN).

***

COALITION PRESS CONTACTS:

Mike Sunderland, Regional Media Manager, Save the Children International Mobile: +221 77 155 92 34; Email: Mike.sunderland@savethechildren.org

Fatou Binetou Dia, Communications Officer, External Communication and Public Advocacy Mobile: +221 77 655 44 16; Email: fbdia@unicef.org


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