Today a special session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) will focus on child marriage. The Governments of Bangladesh, Malawi and Canada will jointly sponsor the session. It is held in support of Every Woman Every Child, a movement spearheaded by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon that aims to save the lives of 16 million women and children by 2015.
The session will address the problems created by early marriages and ways to prevent them. If child marriage is not properly addressed, UN Millennium Development Goals 4 & 5 – calling for a two-thirds reduction in the under-five mortality rate and a three-fourths reduction in the maternal deaths by 2015 – will not be met.
Watch here for live streaming of the event.
Ending child marriage is closely related to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Every Woman Every Child initiative and to efforts to reach Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 3, 4 and 5 to promote gender equality, to reduce child mortality and to improve maternal health.The continued occurrence of child marriage has hindered the achievement of these MDGs, especially in sub-Saharan Africa and south Asia.
“I urge governments, community and religious leaders, civil society, the private sector, and families—especially men and boys—to do their part to let girls be girls, not brides,” says the Secretary-General.
Ending child marriage would also help countries achieve other MDGs aimed at eradicating poverty, achieving universal education and combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, and should also figure within a renewed development agenda.
“The needs of adolescent girls were overlooked in the Millennium Development Goals; they must have a central place in any new goals set by the international community,” said Lakshmi Sundaram, Global Coordinator of Girls Not Brides. “By using the rate of child marriage as an indicator to monitor progress against new goals, we can make sure that governments address the practice and focus on ensuring the welfare of their girls.”
Strategies for ending child marriage recommended to the Commission on the Status of Women include:
- Supporting and enforcing legislation to increase the minimum age of marriage for girls to 18 years;
- Providing equal access to quality primary and secondary education for both girls and boys;
- Mobilizing girls, boys, parents and leaders to change practices that discriminate against girls and to create social, economic, and civic opportunities for girls and young women;
- Providing girls who are already married with options for schooling, employment and livelihood skills, sexual and reproductive health information and services (including HIV prevention), and offering recourse from violence in the home;
- Addressing the root causes of child marriage, including poverty, gender inequality and discrimination, the low value placed on girls and violence against girls.