Every day, approximately 39,000 girls under the age of 18 get married. An estimated 140 million girls will become child brides between 2011 and 2020. Girls who are married as children are robbed of their youth, their education, their health, and their futures.
As a key player in shaping global development priorities—priorities that include education, health care, food security, economic empowerment, and ending violence against women and girls—the United States has an important role in ending early and forced marriage worldwide. We can’t achieve real, sustainable development without protecting and securing the right of all girls to decide if, when, and whom they marry.
The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) passed on February 28, 2013, created a mandate for the U.S. State Department and other federal agencies to produce a comprehensive strategy to end child marriage. Nearly a year has passed since VAWA, and we are still waiting for a comprehensive strategy.
We know what works to prevent child marriage and support girls who have already been forced to marry. Now is the time for the U.S. government to translate rhetoric into strategic policies and programs that have been proven to work.
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Let’s give girls a choice, and a chance, for a real future.
The adoption of a forward-looking resolution on the elimination of child, early, and forced marriage today highlights the urgency for explicitly addressing child marriage in our next development framework.
From November 25 through December 10, organizations around the world will participate in the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign, which will focus on the intersection of gender-based violence and militarism.
We won’t have a full picture of what yesterday’s election means until the new term starts, but we do know it presents a more difficult landscape for sexual and reproductive health and rights.
The proposed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) represent significant progress, addressing critical areas for action that, if implemented, will transform the lives of women and girls globally. What remains to be seen is how the SDGs will be integrated and improved upon in the final Post-2015 development agenda.