Call for Action for the Development of a General Comment on Child Marriage The following call to action was submitted to the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child on 16 June 2013, Dar Es Salaam Tanzania**
This Call for Action to End Child Marriage in Africa is endorsed by participants who took part in a two -day East African Conference on Child Marriage in Dar Es Salaam Tanzania from 12-13 June 2013. The Call for Action specially urges the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child to develop a General Comment on Child Marriage as a matter of urgency to guide governments to fulfill their obligations to protect girls from this gross harmful human rights violation.
Child marriage is a neglected human rights violation that impedes the attainment of key Millennium Development Goals of poverty, gender equality, education and health, and adversely affects social and economic well-being of girls, families, communities and countries at large. In Africa over 42 % of girls are married before they attain 18 years, many of them just before they attain puberty. Additionally, 31 out of the 41 countries where the prevalence rates of child marriage are more than 30 % are African countries and there seems to be little progress in ending this problem in Africa.
85 participants from 11 countries, namely Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, United Kingdom and Zambia, attended the East Africa Regional Conference on Child Marriage in Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania, which explored the context of child marriage and policy and programme interventions and strategies for addressing child marriage. The conference participants included girls and young women affected by child marriage, the Minister of Chiefs and Traditional Affairs in Zambia and officials from the government of Tanzania, traditional chiefs, United Nations officials, academics, representatives from Civil Society Organisations, international as well as regional partners.
With this Call for Action we urge the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child to take active measures to develop a General Comment on Child Marriage, based on Article 21(2) of the ACRWC, which will provide guidance to governments and policy makers in Africa to protect children from child marriages, including relevant standards for effective monitoring. This General Comment will also provide a framework to enable Civil Society Organizations (CSO) to engage with governments.