Cotonou, Benin, 16 June 2017 – In an effort to strengthen national consciousness and action towards ending child marriage, the Government of the Republic of Benin launched the AU Campaign to End Child Marriage in Africa and commemorated the continental Day of the African Child under the theme, “The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development for Children in Africa: Accelerating Protection, Empowerment and Equal opportunity”.
In her opening remarks, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs- Mme Memouna Sinimboule highlighted that this launch is in line with the DAC, which pays tribute to hundreds of black students who were killed in protests against the poor quality of their education and for their right to be taught in their own language.
On behalf of the President of the Republic of Benin, H.E Mr Patrice Talon, the spokesperson informed that this marks a turning point for children in Benin as the next three-year phase of national Campaign to End Child Marriage commences. He emphasized the importance for continued advocacy, capacity building and actions for all stakeholders to undertake, including the judiciary system and the prosecution of perpetrators of child marriages. He stressed the need to align their already developed action plan 2016-2021 with the commitments made at the launch to align further to the Agenda 2063 and Sustainable Development Goals in order to put an end to child marriage.
A representative of religious leaders informed that children are the greatest gift from God and more must be done to tackle the culture of silence in the grassroots, in the schools, markets, and places of worship through more capacity building and dialogue. The Coordinator of the United Nations Systems and Representative of the UNDP in Benin, M. Siaka Coulibaly urged for the cycle of Child marriage to come to an end as a matter of call of duty for all.
On behalf of H.E. Dr. Mrs. Amira El Fadil, Commissioner of Social Affairs, Mme Mariama Mohamed Cisse, Permanent Secretary of the African Committee of Experts for the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC) emphasized the importance of a holistic approach and collective efforts in the call that this harmful practice be eliminated so that children can inherit an Africa fit for children. She called upon the Government of Benin, the civil society organizations and the development partners including UNICEF, UNFPA, Plan International, Save the Children, and Girls Not Brides to continue supporting the Republic of Benin in its undertakings of the campaign.
The two days from 14 – 15 June 2017 – leading to the Launch of the AU Campaign on the DAC, were dedicated to building the capacity of 60 youth and children under the age of 18. The training revolved around the AU Campaign to End Child Marriage in Africa, children related rights and laws referencing the African Children’s Charter, Agenda 2063, the African Charter of the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC) as well as the AU theme for 2017 on ‘Harnessing the Demographic Dividend through Investments in Youth’. The children concluded the training by developing an advocacy statement, which was then presented by one of the girls during the launch of the campaign: the statement called for more advocacy on child marriage, free and compulsory education as well as government allocating resources to address child marriage & corporal punishments.
The Republic of Benin is the 20th Member State to launch the AU Campaign, following the national launches of Ethiopia, Niger, Burkina Faso, Chad, DRC, Madagascar, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Mali, Sudan, Ghana, Eritrea, The Gambia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Cameroon, Nigeria, and Kenya.
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