July 12, 2013

Child marriage is an abuse of human rights that traps and endangers more than 13 million girls under 18 every year. The practice spans continents, religions and cultures. Roughly 39,000 young girls will marry every day over the next decade if current trends continue. Programs targeting poverty and economic growth cannot succeed without addressing child marriage.

Earlier this year Congress passed the Violence Against Women Act that included a provision requiring the U.S. Secretary of State to create and implement a multi-year strategy toward ending child marriage.

To better understand and address this situation, more than 150 high-level officials and legislators are expected to attend a reception on Wednesday, July 24 from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. in Room 332 of the Russell Senate Office Building (Constitution Ave. NE and 1st Street NE). A policy briefing will be held on Thursday, July 25 from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. in Room 485 of the Russell Senate Office Building. Credentialed media representatives are encouraged to attend both events.

The reception and briefing take place in conjunction with Too Young To Wed, a haunting exhibit of photographs and multimedia that illustrates child marriage around the world. The exhibit will be on display in the Rotunda of the Russell Senate Office Building from July 23, 2013 to July 25, 2013, 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. The exhibit is open to the public.

Too Young To Wed features the work of two award-winning journalists: Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Stephanie Sinclair, who documented child marriage during an eight-year period in India, Yemen, Afghanistan, Nepal and Ethiopia; and cinematographer Jessica Dimmock.

The exhibit is sponsored by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and VII Agency. The briefing and reception are made possible by the United Nations Foundation, the Ford Foundation, and Girls Not Brides: The US Partnership to End Child Marriage, which is co-chaired by the International Women’s Health Coalition. 

Sinclair and spokespeople from the sponsoring groups, including Françoise Girard, President of the International Women’s Health Coalition, are available for interviews.

The Too Young To Wed campaign officially opened on October 11, 2012, the first International Day of the Girl Child, at UN Headquarters in New York City, with remarks by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, UNFPA Executive Director Babatunde Osotimehin, former UN Women Executive Director Michelle Bachelet, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu of The Elders.