Hundreds of children and young people join World Children's Day Run to End Child Marriage

24 November 2023
group photo World Children's Day
UNICEF South Sudan/Priscilla Agok Kuol

Juba, South Sudan – The Ministry of Gender, Child and Social Welfare, UNICEF and partners joined hundreds of children and young people today to mark World Children's Day for a run to raise awareness to end child marriage in the country.

A mass of runners and walkers, clad in vibrant shades of World Children’s Day blue, looped around Juba’s streets and finished at the Dr. John Garang Mausoleum for continued celebrations. This event underlines the country’s commitment to ending child marriage and supports the broader campaign to protect children's rights in South Sudan.

Randa Wani, a UNICEF Young Reporter, said "Running is one exercise that requires determination to win, so as l participate in this fun run, l am determined to put in all my efforts to end child marriage in South Sudan. And as a girl who has experienced the privileges of being in school, I am running not just for myself, but I wish for every girl to enjoy their childhood and pursue the dreams they have for the future."

Child marriage in South Sudan is a serious issue, with over half of all girls married before the age of 18, leading to severe implications for their health, education, and future opportunities. The legal system's current ambiguity and lack of enforcement, compounded by cultural norms and poverty, exacerbate the situation, making it a critical area of focus for change.

"Our nation's prosperity lies in the well-being of our children. Let us pave the way for a society that protects our children and ensure they reach their full potential. We must all work together to change our societal attitudes as well as policy and implementation to end child marriage,” said the Minister of Gender, Child and Social Welfare, Hon. Ayaa Benjamin Warille.

Through the run and accompanying national advocacy efforts, UNICEF with the Ministry of Gender, Child and Social Welfare, and partners aims to shift social norms and foster community dialogue around the practice of child marriage. UNICEF's collaboration with the Government, aims at the shared vision of eradicating child marriage by 2030.

Hamida Lasseko, UNICEF Representative in South Sudan said, "We must address the issue of child marriage head-on. This requires a multifaceted approach that tackles the legal, cultural, and economic factors that contribute to this issue. We must all come together to end this practice and ensure young girls and boys are given the opportunities they deserve. They should be in school, playing with their friends and allowed to have a normal childhood. Not married.”

The World Children’s Day run is part of UNICEF South Sudan's broader campaign to end child marriage, through community engagement, advocacy efforts, and partnerships – at all levels. The goal is to advance efforts to enforce the legal marriage age, boost education and health for girls, and mobilize public and leadership support to eradicate this harmful practice.

Media contacts

James Maiden
Chief of Communication
Tel: +211912162888
Richard Ruati
Communication Specialist
UNICEF South Sudan
Tel: +211 92 13 9578

About UNICEF

UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.

For more information about UNICEF and its work in South Sudan visit: www.unicef.org/southsudan

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