Dakar, Senegal (MAT) – ADVOCACY FOR THE ABOLITION OF FORCED CHILD MARRIAGE. The First Lady of Niger, Lalla Malika Issoufou, recently pleaded in New York for the abolition of forced child marriage in her country in particular and in Africa in general, a phenomenon that she considers a factor of the “population explosion”.
“The demographic explosion at home is related to forced marriages of children, with 76.3% of girls married before 18 years and 28.8% before 15 years,” she argued before 11 other first African ladies.
She made this plea on the sidelines of the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) during a high-level parallel session on the impact of good practices in Niger on the sexual and reproductive health of adolescent girls and women.
A meeting at the initiative of the Niger government, organized in collaboration with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and in the presence of several other customary, religious and civil people of the country.
In addition to the Secretary General of La Francophonie, Michaelle Jean, the 11 first ladies (Cape Verde, Gambia, Nigeria, South Africa, Comoros, Mali, Burkina Faso, Sierra Leone, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Lesotho) have indicated their support for Mrs. Issoufou in her fight against the forced marriage of children.
“Child marriage is a bad situation under the pressure of socio-cultural gravity,” said Lalla Malika Issoufou, a doctor who runs a foundation that fights fistula in Niger where some 750 cases are registered per year.
According to him, the same problem arises throughout the Sahel, where poverty requires that marriage be considered as a means of social climbing, or even a source of income.
Hence the call for “collective awareness” advocated by the Regional Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) for West and Central Africa, Mabigué Ngom.
According to him there will be no capture of the demographic dividend without the abolition of forced marriage of children. He believes that “Africa faces two major challenges,” respectively climatic and demographic, despite everything, “its population and especially its youth are an opportunity for its development,” he said.
UNFPA provides technical assistance and coordinates at the regional level the Women’s Empowerment and Demographic Dividend in the Sahel (SWEDD) program, which focuses on capturing the demographic dividend in the Sahel.