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Towards ending harmful practices in Africa: A statistical overview of child marriage and female genital mutilation

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CHILD MARRIAGE and FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION are serious violations of a child’s rights. But across Africa, girls and women continue to experience these harmful practices with alarming regularity. The continent is home to 130 million child brides and nearly 140 million girls and women who have undergone female genital mutilation (FGM). Over 40 million girls and women in Africa have experienced both harmful practices.

Globally, Africa has the highest levels of both practices. Their prevalence varies widely across the continent by region, country or even the community a girl is a member of. Progress towards ending these harmful practices is likewise mixed: Some countries in Africa have already made impressive advances in upholding girls’ and women’s rights, while in others, there is still much that needs to be done.

Governments and regional institutions across Africa have joined the global community in its pledge to end child marriage and female genital mutilation, guided by the goal of eliminating harmful practices set forth in Sustainable Development Goal 5.3 and of gender equality captured in Goal 17 of the African Union Agenda 2063. But as the data in this report show, Africa must take urgent action if it is to uphold these promises to girls and women.

Only through accelerated programmatic efforts and increased domestic resources can we ensure the rights of every African child are protected and the harmful practices of child marriage and female genital mutilation ARE ELIMINATED ONCE AND FOR ALL.