The Africa Union (AU) will meet in Zambia this week to hold its first conference on Ending Child Marriage in Africa, a move aimed at protecting African girls from the vice.
The AU says that about 14 million under-age girls are married on the continent annually, almost all of them forced off by their parents, often in violation of laws within those countries, even though the laws themselves are rarely enforced.
“Child marriage is a human rights violation that robs girls of their rights to health, to live in security, and to choose if, when and whom to marry,” the AU said ahead of the meeting on Thursday and Friday in Lusaka.
“It is a harmful practice which severely affects the rights of a child.”
The conference will bring together representatives from member states, African First Ladies, United Nations officials and civil society groups to discuss how to change the long-established cultural norms and how to eventually end child marriage altogether.