15 MARCH 2013 | NEW YORK
Too Young to Wed: high-level panel
Cross-sector partners unite for action on child marriage
Governments, civil society and other global and local actors came together to tackle all forms of violence against women and girls at the 57th session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women from 4-15 March 2013. The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health seized the occasion to join the Governments of Bangladesh, Malawi and Canada, and a host of partners spanning various global health and development sectors, to convene a high-level panel on child marriage in support of Every Woman Every Child, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s movement to save 16 million women and children by 2015 through the Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health.
Strategies for ending child marriage recommended by the panel included:
- 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; and
- Addressing the root causes of child marriage, including poverty, gender inequality and discrimination, the low value placed on girls and violence against girls.
Panel participants included: Ms Margaret Mensah-Williams, Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Namibia; Ms Michelle Bachelet, Executive Director of UN Women; Dr Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director of UNFPA, Ms Lakshmi Sundaram, Global Coordinator of Girls Not Brides; and Mr Tim Costello, CEO, World Vision Australia.
Ms Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda, General Secretary of the World YWCA, moderated the session. Comments were provided by government co-hosts of the event: H.E. Catherine Gotani Hara, Minister of Health of Malawi; H.E. Dr A. K. Abdul Momen, Permanent Representative to the UN, Bangladesh, and Guillermo Rishchynski, Permanent Representative to the UN, Canada,
Dr Carole Presern, Executive Director, The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health introduced the government representatives.
Event attendees also heard video testimony from Mereso Kiluso , a 29-year-old who escaped an abusive child marriage and now advocates for women and girls in her Maasai community in Tanzania.