Nigeria has joined hands with 15 other members of the African Union in a major campaign to end early child marriage.
The campaign to end child marriage in Africa was launched by the AU on 29 May, 2014, during the fourth Conference of Ministers of Social Development.
And the latest move was launched by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo in partnership with the United Nations, religious and traditional leaders, the Canadian government and other stakeholders.
Some states still left out
The vice president said, though, Nigeria had made positive advances in ending child marriage through the enactment of the Child Right Act, only 24 states had domesticated the law.
“There is evidence of correlation between child marriage and poverty. West and Central Africa have the highest rate of child marriage in the world.
”Two out of five girls are married before they are 18. There is unassailable proof that early marriage affects the physical, mental and psychological health of the girl-child. There is evidence that there is correlation between illiteracy and child marriage.”
Osinbajo then called on states to make the law a priority as the girl-child also deserves greater education in the country.
Urges states to take responsibility
“I urge the states which have not made provisions for the education of girls who are out of school to do so. Barriers to girls education must be removed.”
The presidency also launched the national strategy report on child marriage. The report is a guideline to raise awareness and curtail the harmful impact of child marriage.
“The campaign launched today is a call to action. It is an attempt to save the lives of adolescent girls forced into early marriage, many of whom become pregnant and are at a higher risk of complications in pregnancy or childbirth,” said the UN Resident Representative in Nigeria, Muhammed Malik.
He further said: “These complications are a leading cause of death among adolescent girls in countries like Nigeria; which is unnecessary and unacceptable.”
On her part, the Minister of Women and Social Development, Senator Aisha Jummai Alhassan, decried how child marriage threatens the lives and health of girls and limit their potential.