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.
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.