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National Launch of the African Union Campaign to End Child Marriage Freetown, Sierra Leone

By African Union Commission (AUC),SMS
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Media Advisory

WHAT: The Republic of Sierra Leone will be launching the African Union Campaign to End Child Marriage in Freetown Sierra Leone, that in line with the 2016 AU theme: ‘African Year of Human Rights with particular Focus on the Rights of Women’ and the African Common Position on Ending Child marriage in Africa.

WHEN: Wednesday, 17 August 2016, from 08:30 to 12:00

WHERE: Bank Complex Kingtom, Freetown, Sierra Leone

WHO: Hosted by His Excellency, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma, President of the Republic of Sierra Leone

WHY: Child marriage undermines development efforts. The girl child, the society and countries continue to suffer the consequences of child marriage. Aspirations for Africa’s development remains wishful if the girl child is not prioritized by ensuring that they are kept longer in school and not married off while they are still girls. The cost of girls dropping out of school — as almost all child brides do, reduce their future earning power with attendant consequences on their empowerment and the socio-economic development of the continent.

TAKING PART: Other speakers at the event are:

1. H.E. Dr. Mustapha Sidiki Kaloko, Commissioner for Social Affairs, African Union Commission

2. H.E. Mrs Sai Nyama Koroma, First Lady of the Republic of Sierra Leone

3. Mr. Sunil Saigal, UN Resident Coordinator, Sierra Leone

There will be testimonies from survivors of child marriage

BACKGROUND:

Child marriage is a harmful practice which severely affects the rights of a children and further deprives them of the opportunity of attaining other aspirations like education and being able to decide for themselves who to marry. Every year, about 14 million adolescent and teen girls are married, almost always forced into the arrangement by their parents. In developing countries, one in three girls is married by age 18; and one in nine by age 15. UNICEF, projects that if the present trends continue, by 2030, the number of child brides marrying each year would have grown more than 14% annually from 14.2 in 2010 to 15.1 million. Although the largest numbers of child brides are in countries of South Asia, countries with the highest rates of child marriage are in Africa. Of the 41 countries world-wide with prevalent rate of 30% or more, 30 are from Africa.

The AU Commission launched a continent wide Campaign to End Child Marriage in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 29 May, 2014, during the Conference of African Ministers of Social Development. At the 25th Ordinary Session of the AU Assembly of Heads of State and Government in June 2015, African leaders endorsed the African Common Position on Ending Child marriage in Africa. So far, the AU Campaign has been launched in 14 African Countries. These countries have gone ahead in instituting national strategies and action plans on ending child marriages, with some like Malawi, Zimbabwe and The Gambia going a step further in criminalizing child marriages. The Republic of Sierra Leone becomes the 15th AU Member State to launch the continental Campaign at the national level.

Journalists are invited to cover the launch event