Child marriage violates girls’ rights to health, education and employment. It exposes them to violence and traps them, their families, and their nations in a cycle of intergenerational poverty, thereby costing countries billions of dollars and preventing them from achieving sustainable development. West and Central Africa hosts the three countries with the highest prevalence of child marriage in the world: Niger, Central African Republic and Chad. The region has the highest child marriage rate and the fastest population growth in the world.
Without immediate action, the number of child brides will continue to increase, with devastating consequences for the sub-region. Without concerted and accelerated efforts to end child marriage, countries in West and Central Africa will not be able to achieve the demographic dividend and eight of the Sustainable Development Goals.