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. Child marriage is now firmly on the global development agenda, most prominently through its inclusion in Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target 5.3, which calls for the elimination of the practice by 2030.
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 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.