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Child marriage in West and Central Africa

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A statistical overview and reflections on ending the practice

Child marriage is a violation of human rights. Every child has the right to be protected from this harmful practice, which has devastating consequences for individuals and for society. An estimated 650 million girls and women alive today were married before their 18th birthdays. Nearly 60 million of them reside in West and Central Africa. This region is home to the highest prevalence of child marriage in the world.

This publication provides a statistical overview of child marriage in the region. It highlights levels and trends overall and presents country profiles that allow a closer look into how the practice varies throughout the region. It also offers insights into the characteristics of early unions and the lives of child brides and identifies what is needed to eliminate child marriage by 2030.

The region is home to nearly 60 million child brides, with the largest share in Nigeria