The President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr Akinwumi A. Adesina, has appealed to men who marry underage girls to marry women whose ages complement theirs.
According to him, child marriage was one of the serious gender-based violence being meted out to girls in many African countries.
Dr Adesina was speaking at a meeting of the Organisation of African First Ladies for Development (OAFLAD) in New York. “Marry your own age mates and leave our girls alone,” he said.
He said the situation led to a vicious cycle of poverty and dependence for millions of women and girls on the African continent.
Dr Adesina explained that education was the antidote to child marriage and added that girls should be allowed to go to school and complete their education instead of getting married.
He commended African first ladies for ensuring that the value chain of girls and women empowerment came into fruition.
He was, however, of the view that this value chain was being distracted by men through early marriage, gender-based violence and the lack of economic empowerment for women and girls.
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