Achieving a future without child marriage
UNICEF has published a statistical report on child marriage in West and Central Africa. As a previous Maps & Facts issue has shown, the region remains one of the most impacted by early marriage, which is one of the practices that the sustainable development goals seek to eradicate. Seven West African countries rank among the top 20 countries in the world with the highest rate of child marriage [Niger (1), Chad (3), Mali (5), Guinea (5), Burkina Faso (5), Nigeria (12) and Sierra Leone (19)]. In Niger, three out of four girls marry before their 18th birthday. Nigeria and Niger are among the top 20 countries with the highest absolute number of child marriages, with 3.3 million and 609 000 married girls, respectively. Although a number of West African countries have experienced a decline in the prevalence of child marriage, the report explains that, given the region’s population growth, it is imperative that they to increase the on-going work to reduce the overall number of children marrying early. Several courses of action are proposed in the report.