ACCRA, Ghana’s Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Otiko Afisa Djaba, has called for zero tolerance on child marriages in Africa, stressing that all children must be protected from abuses such as child marriage, which stunts the child’s educational opportunities.

She made the call here Monday at the opening of the African Union (AU) Department of Social Affairs’ three-day regional capacity-building workshop on increased advocacy to ending child marriage through media engagement.

Participants for the West and Central Africa Regional workshop were drawn from Ghana, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, CAte d’Ivoire, Gabon, Gambia, Guinea-Conakry, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo.

The overarching objective of the workshop is to enhance the capacity of the media to better investigate and report on child marriages in Africa with a focus on addressing the root causes and the different facets of the issue; and challenging all stakeholders towards ending the practice.

The workshop seeks to link the role of the media as key information transmitters in delivering the key tenets of the AU Campaign to End Child Marriage in Africa, the AU’s Agenda 2063 50-year development strategy and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The Minister noted that out of 700 million women and girls worldwide, 125 million of those who were married before their 18th birthday were in Africa.

She added that Africa’s population was expected to grow rapidly in the coming years putting more girls, especially those dwelling in rural areas, at higher risk.

She also cited an African Child Policy Forum (ACPF) document which reported that out of the 41 countries worldwide with child marriage prevalence rates of 30 per cent or more, 30 were in Africa.