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.