We shape global policies and work with local organizations to prevent early and forced marriage, and to ensure that vulnerable youth, including married and unmarried adolescent girls, can access the information and services they need. We advocate at the United Nations and in Washington, DC, to secure government commitments and funding to end the harmful practice of child marriage around the world.
“Child marriage” is generally understood to mean marriages that take place before age 18, but for many girls, marriage occurs much earlier. In some countries, girls as young as 7 or 8 are forced by their families to marry much older men. The reasons girls are married are diverse, and parents sometimes believe that through marriage, they are protecting their daughters and increasing their economic opportunities. However, child marriage exposes girls to increased health problems and violence, denies them access to social networks and support systems, and perpetuates a cycle of poverty and gender inequality.
In the Extreme North of Cameroon, where our partner APAD is based, nearly 80% of girls have experienced an early and forced marriage before the age of 18. APAD is led by young women who are survivors of child marriage. They work to empower girls like them, and to make sure survivors are able to tell their stories, demand social change, and survive on their own. In this video, these brave young women shared their stories and explained how they are working to end this harmful practice.
While the law banning child marriage is a major milestone, ending the practice requires action on multiple levels.
In his proposed fiscal year 2016 budget, President Obama has prioritized adolescent girls in a way we haven’t seen before.
Every January, we like to take stock of the gains we’ve made to safeguard the health and rights of women and girls around the world. Last year was a difficult. But we also saw reasons for optimism.
The world’s youth still face many of the same obstacles that prevent them from leading healthy lives that they did 20 years ago.