London conference against child marriage – Nov 23 (UK)

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Nigerian Women organize November London conference against child marriage

kate and susan iiNIGERIAN women in the UK have convened a special conference to debate the debilitating effects of child marriage among African children in response to recent moves by the Senate to approve underage wedlock.

In July, the Nigerian senate approved a bill that would recognise child brides as adults and which would legalise marriages to minors. There has been an national and international outrage at the development with women’s and child protection groups condemning the bill that was moved by former Zamfara State governor Ahmed Sani Yerima, who himself married a 13-year old Egyptian girl in 2010.

Responding to the development, the Nigerian Women in Diaspora Leadership Forum (NWIDLF) has organised a conference to debate the issue in central London on November 23. Due to start at 12 noon, the conference will be attended by prominent Nigerian women in the UK like Susan Fajana-Thomas, the former mayor Hackney and Councillor Kate Anolue, the former mayor of Enfield. WHO WE ARE

NWIDLF president Jenny Chika Okafor, said: “Our legislators are saying they will look at the issue again, so we will keep campaigning until they do. we believe that 18 should be the age of consent and will keep advocating for that”.

“At this conference, we will debate all the problems surrounding the issue of child marriage including religion and the health aspects. Most of these girls end up being abandoned and are left alone with vascular diseases.”

Councillor Fajana-Thomas added that the NWIDLF will be backing up its campaign by writing to the Nigerian high commissioner to the UK, Dr Dalhatu Tafida, asking him to forward the letter on to President Goodluck Jonathan. Ms Okafor confirmed that contact has already been made with the high commission on the matter and they are waiting for feedback.

Ms Okafor added: “If you look at the fate of most of these girls who get married early, they are given out as teenagers to a man of about 40 years old and by the time the woman is 40, their husbands have probably passed away. The woman, who has been denied an education of any skills, is then left to cater for children and cannot cope, so her own daughters then get married off early too, while hers end up joining Boko Haram.”

Several coordinators have already been appointed to organise the event including Grace Tijani, Fola Ekeigwe, Oma Abel Unokan, Ekanem Robertson, Councillor Fajana-Thomas and Christie Akumabor. Anyone interested in attending the event can get in touch via or by ringing 0800 088 7455.

Although attendance is free, Ms Okafor said donations would be welcome and sponsors would be appreciated too. She added that the conference hopes to attract African men and women, as well as friends of Africa.



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