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“Enough with the silence”, African girls speak out

In the quest for building the Africa we want, the African Union (AU) developed a campaign to accelerate an end to child marriage in Africa by enhancing continental awareness of the implications of this harmful practice. Child marriage is a violation of child rights and this has immense negative effects on their physical growth, health, mental, emotional development and access to educational opportunities.

Prior to the 2nd AU Girls Summit that was held recently in Ghana, a pre-summit was organized for young people to share, plan and strategize from 21st-22nd November; where some of them had these enthralling and diverse opinions to share:

”I’m really grateful to the first ladies in Africa for considering child marriage as a critical issue for discussion, some of us who are facing problems in child marriage have really been moved by them” says Christine Nadia Lawrence, a delegate from Sudan.

She added, ”When I return to my country, it is very important for me to share all that I have learnt in this pre-summit with people in my community seeing that, early child marriage makes girls suffer extremely. They are forced to be breadwinners in their families when they get married.”

A delegate from Ghana, Millicent Bonga on her part stated that she wants the government to penalize parents that give their children out for marriage. ”They should be fined huge sum of monies which can be used for investing in the future of the girls, as this can eventually deter other parents from engaging in the practice.”

”Being here has given me the platform to learn how child marriage and teenage pregnancies can be prevented in our societies and also, the roles girls and stakeholders must play in ending child marriage. One thing I want the government to do in preventing child marriage and ending teenage pregnancies is for sexual education to really go on in schools” Amina Akua Esawaa, Ghana.

Likewise, Selamawit, Ethiopia stated “the government must support girl child education since most girls resort to marriage when they lack the primary needs for education. Stakeholders should offer scholarships to support girl child education”

Although child marriage is declining, its decline rate is slow thus, the African Union campaign strategically works to strengthen existing activities of governments and partners in ending child marriage through advocacy, monitoring and evaluation alongside the facilitation of technical assistance and capacity building.