Niger: Using music to tackle child marriages

APA-Niamey (Niger)

The United Nations Children’s Fund is using music and art as a powerful tool in the fight against the scourge of child marriages in Niger.

Touched by the plight of young girls being forced into early marriages, UN agency has teamed up with international music producer Moon Boots and vocalist Black Gatsby to produce a music video decrying the impact of the practice on the girl child.

According to UNICEF, Niger has the highest rate of child marriages in the world, An estimated three in four young Nigerien girls are married before the age of 18, while one in four before the age of 15 in the West African country.

UNICEF representative in Niger, Félicité Tchibindat notes that music and arts are powerful tools “to make the world aware that ending child marriage is possible.”

‘When a girl is married as a child her fundamental rights are violated. Putting an end to child marriage is a focus of UNICEF’s work in Niger,” Tchibindat says.

However, realising that the fight against child marriages should be a collective effort, UNICEF decided to partner with artists and other stakeholders in its search for “new alliances to fight the persistence of child marriage”, according to Tchibindat.

Titled "Power" the video also extols the virtues of schooling for girls.

“We need to invest in positive alternatives to child marriage; and one of the best positive alternatives for girls is their education,” Tchibindat notes.

Like in many other African countries, child marriage persists in Niger because of multiple factors such as poverty, low levels of education and social norms to which families feel pressured to conform.

Since unequal gender norms put a much higher value on boys and men than on girls and women, girls are sometimes seen as liabilities to the family and are therefore married off.

The Nigerien government has made strides over the past few years to create a conducive environment for children, including development of a multi-sectoral national action plan to end child marriage and promulgation of a decree for the protection of the girl-child in school to guarantee access and retention until age 16.

“As an artist, my hope is to create music that can make an impact and help affect change in any way, whether big or small. I feel so grateful that ‘Power’ has inspired the family at UNICEF to share this important and powerful message, helping us all to be more aware of some of the troubles others are facing around the world,” Black Gatsby says.

The music video was filmed in the desert of Agadez, Niger, and was produced in partnership with UNICEF Niger, Moon Boots and Black Gatsby, and directed by South Africa’s Rooftop Productions.

It will be promoted on UNICEF global channels across the world on July 1.


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