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.
On October 7, 2015, girls’ rights activists and journalists will explore new and emerging trends in media coverage of child marriage—a practice that impacts 15 million girls every year.
The commitments to sexual and reproductive health and rights made in the Sustainable Development Goals reflect much of what is needed to ensure that all women and girls can lead full and healthy lives.
The 2030 Agenda has committed to ending harmful practices such as child marriage and female genital mutilation. Governments must now examine the causes and consequences of these practices in order to face them head-on and eliminate them.
President Obama’s trip to Africa marked a turning point for his administration’s work to improve the lives of adolescent girls.