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The Global Programme to End Child Marriage (GPECM) reached its fifth anniversary in 2021. Throughout the year, the UNFPA and UNICEF offices in the East and Southern Africa region marked the anniversary with a series of events, culminating in a two-day virtual celebration, hosted in South Africa on 11 and 12 October 2021, to coincide with the International Day of the Girl Child.

The celebration brought together high-level government officials; senior representatives of UN agencies, partners and civil society organizations (CSOs); academics; community leaders; traditional, faith-based and religious leaders; and young people. The celebration showcased the work done in the region to end child marriage and to empower girls and young women; reflected on successes and lessons learned and identified opportunities to move the GPECM forward in the region; examined new and emerging issues, such as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change on child marriage; and served as a platform for stakeholders to renew their commitment to end child marriage by 2030 and to reverse the increase in the practice resulting from the pandemic.

Now, in the Decade of Action to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, UNFPA and UNICEF are stepping up efforts to end child marriage, teenage pregnancies, gender- based violence and female genital mutilation (FGM), and calling on partners in the East and Southern Africa region to increase their investment in empowering girls and women. According to UNFPA, ending child marriage by 2030 requires an investment of $35 billion – but this is $24.1 billion more than the official development assistance currently committed to achieving that goal.

This report is based on the presentations given and discussions held over the course of the two-day celebration, reflecting on successes, good practices and lessons learned, emerging and linked issues, such as climate change and FGM, and financing initiatives. It pulls out the key messages for partners in the East and Southern Africa region and includes the call to action, with which the celebration closed, expressing stakeholders’ renewed commitment to end child marriage by 2030.