UN Women in Africa led efforts to engage with cultural and traditional community leaders to end harmful practices affecting women and girls. Evidence-based engagement has proven that working with community leaders is essential to effectively changing social norms.
Traditional leaders have been catalysts of change against child marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM) by influencing the abandonment of certain customary and traditional laws and practices and engaging with their communities to end them.
At least one in three young women in Africa is married before the age of 18 (UNICEF, 2006). Although there are signs of slight progress in changing attitudes towards FGM, the practice remains a major problem in many countries on the continent. Approximately 200 million girls and women have been subjected to this practice (UNICEF, 2006).
Traditional leaders across Africa play an important role as influencers and guardians of cultural practices within communities. As attention grows on the slow progress to end gender-based violence, including child early marriage (ECM) and FGM, traditional leaders have a critical role to play in changing deeply rooted cultural beliefs that perpetuate harmful practices.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of UN Women – Africa.
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