Unicef has launched its first ever global campaign with the UN which aims to bring an end to child marriage.
The partnership with the United Nations Population Fund (UNPF) launched on International Women’s Day (8 March) and will work with families, communities, governments and young people to prevent girls from marrying too young and to support those already married.
The global campaign will target young girls in 12 countries across Africa, Asia and the Middle East where child marriage rates are high. It will focus on proven strategies, including increasing girls’ access to education and health care services, educating parents and communities on the dangers of child marriage, increasing economic support to families, and strengthening and enforcing laws that establish 18 as the minimum age of marriage.
Executive director of UNFPA, Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, said: “As part of this global programme, we will work with governments of countries with a high prevalence of child marriage to uphold the rights of adolescent girls, so that girls can reach their potential and countries can attain their social and economic development goals.”
Unicef’s executive director, Anthony Lake, said: “This new global programme will help drive action to reach the girls at greatest risk – and help more girls and young women realize their right to dictate their own destinies. This is critical now because if current trends continue, the number of girls and women married as children will reach nearly 1 billion by 2030 – 1 billion childhoods lost, 1 billion futures blighted.”
As part of the campaign Unicef is trying to raise awareness that marriage impacts on children’s education which in turn also hurts economies and leads to intergenerational cycles of poverty.
Both Unicef and UNPF will call on governments and partner organisations to support the new global programme to help eliminate child marriage by 2030.