Nearly every major television network in the world will be streaming the royal wedding procession of prince William and Kate Middleton. Here is hoping that in the few days leading up to Friday’s royal nuptials the media gives just a tiny fraction of its attention to the kinds of weddings that are not so royal, elegant–or even legal.
I’m talking about child marriage, which is a major, major problem in much of the developing world.
One in seven girls under the age of 15 is married in the developing world. Once a girl becomes trapped in these kinds of marriages, her prospects for educational attainment become severely constrained. That, in turn, has all sorts of negative effects on the health and welfare of her family and the community at large. Breaking that vicious cycle starts with ending child marriage.
Our friends at the UN Foundation’s Girl Up campaign put together this video about the issue.
Child marriage is a human rights violation. Tragically, 1 in 7 girls in developing countries is married by age 15 — often to a man twice her age or older. Child brides are often separated from friends and family and are denied an education. They are also at higher risk for violence, HIV, and death during pregnancy or childbirth.
On behalf of adolescent girls around the world, we are asking for your help. Our government has led the way in protecting and empowering girls through U.S. foreign assistance investments in health, development, and educational programs. Child marriage undermines all of these investments and robs girls of their potential.
We can succeed in helping to create a new future for millions of girls by:
• Developing a strategy to help partner countries prevent child marriage;
• Supporting programs and policies that prevent child marriage;
• Monitoring and reporting on efforts to end child marriage.
There are 600 million adolescent girls in our world today. Each of these girls has tremendous potential to positively impact their family, community, and our future. It is critical that the U.S. continues to work in partnership with local communities, leaders, governments, and the United Nations to address the rights and needs of girls. We need your continued and expanded support to help combat child marriage. There will be more than 100 million child brides in the next decade if we don’t act now.