World leaders must act now to protect girls’ childhoods says Society for the Improvement of Rural People (SIRP Nigeria)

Child Marriage

Society for the Improvement of Rural People today publicly called on the President and Commander in Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, General Mohammadu Buhari, GCFR and the Honourable Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Mrs Pauline Tallen, to reinforce their commitment to end child marriage in Nigeria; at an event held in Awgu, in Enugu State, Nigeria, on the 25th of August 2019, as part of their advocacy programme to end the practice of child marriage and Female Genital Mutilation in Nigeria. They also used the occasion to deliver this Appeal to the Igwe of Awgu Royal Kingdom Enugu Nigeria, His Eminence Igwe C. Ekwo.

Globally, 12 million girls are married off every year before they turn 18, depriving them of their rights to education, health and a life of their choosing. In Nigeria, 43% of girls are married off before the age of 18, and 17% before they turn 15. Nigeria ranks as the 11th nation with the highest number of child marriages in the world.

However, Dr Christopher Ugwu, the Executive Director, Society for the Improvement of Rural People (SIRP), commended the Nigerian government’s effort in putting together an extant policy document titled “National Strategy to End Child Marriage Nigeria (2016-2021); but requested the government to commence the implementation of activities contained in the Strategy document to ensure the end of child marriage in Nigeria by 2030.

Accordingly, this appeal is part of a wider #StopStealingHerChildhood campaign, led by Girls Not Brides: The Global Partnership to End Child Marriage. Civil society members, activists and members of Girls Not Brides from around the world are calling on leaders to accelerate action to end child marriage at this year’s Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Summit, 24-25 September 2019 (New York, United States of America).

Child Marriage

In 2015, world leaders agreed to end child marriage by 2030 as part of the SDG commitment. In September, heads of government are meeting for the first time since 2015 to review progress on the SDGs. Society for the Improvement of Rural People (SIRP) wants to make sure that girls aren’t forgotten at the summit, and that world leaders make commitments to address child marriage.

Rachel Yates, Interim Executive Director of Girls Not Brides, a global partnership of over 1,200 civil society organisations committed to ending child marriage, said:

“Child marriage exposes millions of girls to violence. It prevents girls from fulfilling their potential and leading happy, safe and productive lives. World leaders have the power to end this human rights violation. Together, let’s show them we won’t stand for child marriage.”

Child marriage puts girls at greater risk of physical, sexual and emotional violence. Girls who marry before 18 are more likely to face violence from an intimate partner throughout their life. The greater the age difference with their husbands, the more likely they are to experience violence.

Society for the Improvement of Rural People (SIRP) will in the second week of September 2019 organise a State Twitter Dialogue with State and Non-State Actors across the country to sensitise participants to buy into this Campaign by supporting the implementation of Nigeria’s National Strategy to end child marriage in Nigeria (2016-2021).

For more information, contact:

Dr Christopher Ugwu
Executive Director
Society for the Improvement of Rural People (SIRP)
161 Agbani Road, Enugu, Nigeria

Facebook: Chris Ugwu, SIRP Nigeria.
Twitter: @sirp_nigeria, @SIRP Projects

Notes to editors

  • Name of Organisation: Society for the Improvement of Rural People (SIRP)
  • Contact Address: No 161 Agbani Road Enugu, Nigeria.
  • Telephone: +234 703 416 1674
  • Email:
  • Twitter: @SIRP Projects @sirp_nigeria
  • Website:

Society for the Improvement of Rural People (SIRP) is a member of Girls Not Brides, a global partnership of more than 1200 civil society organisations from over 100 countries committed to ending child marriage and enabling girls to fulfil their potential. For more information visit