UN reveals that Nigeria is now the child bride capital of the world with 23m teenage girls married off

NIGERIA has the highest number of child brides in the world with a whopping 23m girls married off in childhood according to a recent survey published by the United Nations (UN) ahead of a conference to address the matter this week.


On Tuesday, the UN will be holding a conference in Lagos to address cultural practices against girls and women, including child marriage and female genital mutilation. Expected to be attended by traditional rulers from different African countries, the event will seek ways to address the growing number of girls married off in their teens and recommending ways to tackle the problem.


UN national information officer, Dr Seyi Soremekun, said UN Women Africa in collaboration with United Nations Population Fund and United Nations Children’s Fund had made a strategic choice of placing the engagement of African traditional authorities central to addressing the cultural norms and practices harmful to women and girls’ well-being. UN Women said it had launched a series of regional consultations with traditional rulers and institutions to address the challenging issues as well as facilitate a framework for the African Union summit with traditional and cultural authorities on ending child marriage due to take place in January.


According to the UN,  millions of women and girls were subjected to harmful practices including child marriage across the African continent. It noted that if the trends continued in the next decade, 14.2m girls under the age of 18 would be married every year.


Dr Soremekun said: “In West and Central Africa, the region with the highest prevalence of child marriage, the practice continues unabated with progress registered in reversing the trend at its slowest and lowest in the world. Countries such as Niger, Chad and Central African Republic are currently peaked at 76, 72 and 68 percent, respectively and rated as having the highest prevalence in the world.


“The region is also home to six of the 10 countries globally with the highest prevalence rate of child marriage in Niger, Central African Republic, Chad, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Guinea. While Niger has the highest prevalence of child marriage in the world, at 76%, Nigeria is home to the largest number of child brides in Africa, with 23m girls and women married off in childhood.


Furthermore, the UN expressed concern that that by 2050, the number of children married before the age of 18 would double if no fundamental change aimed at reversing the trend was made. In recognition of the need to curb the practices and protect the health and well-being of women and girls of Africa, UN Women stated that it had identified ending child marriage in Africa as one of its three cross-regional programmes within its Africa Strategy 2018 to 2021.