The meeting bringing together members of the Organization of African First Ladies for Development (OAFLAD) took place on the sidelines of the 74th United Nations General Assembly.
It was also attended by the President of Sierra Leone, Rtd Gen. Julius Maada Bio among other partners.
Discussions centered on the theme: ‘Advancing the campaign on the reduction of early marriage and rape in Africa’.
Central and Western parts of Africa record the highest rate of early marriages and are ranked at the second place worldwide following Southern Asia.
Child marriage costs African countries tens of billions of dollars in lost earnings and human capital, according to the World Bank report (Educating Girls and Ending Child Marriage) launched in 2018.
According to the report, more than three million (or one-third of) girls in Sub-Saharan Africa marry before their 18th birthday each year.
Today, the region has the highest prevalence of child marriage in the world. Child brides are much more likely to drop out of school and complete fewer years of education than their peers who marry later.
They are also more likely to have children at a young age, which affects their health as well as the education and health of their children.
While many African countries have achieved gender parity in primary education, the report notes that girls lag behind boys at the secondary level.
In Sub-Saharan Africa, seven out of 10 girls complete primary education, but only four out of 10 complete lower secondary schools
Madam Fatima Maada Bio requested to make early marriages and rape as a global concern negatively impacting the world’s development and adopt strict policies to address the issue.
The research carried out to 12 countries having half of the African population indicated that early marriage consequences incur a loss of US$ 63 billion every year to these countries.
These include Burkina Faso, DRC, Egypt, Ethiopia, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Congo, Uganda, and Zambia.
Mrs. Jeannette Kagame also attended an event to raise awareness and mobilizing stakeholders on ensuring adequate, safe and sustainable blood in Africa, especially for mothers.
During the session, Sandrine Umutoni, the Director-General of Imbuto Foundation shared Rwanda’s experience in availing safe and adequate blood, through national initiatives such as the National Centre for Blood Transfusion, blood delivery by Drones and initiatives promoting access to health for all.