Girls Not Brides USA became the first official Girls Not Brides National Partnership in 2012. Before then, the group was known as the U.S. Child Marriage Coalition and was instrumental in pushing forward key policies on child marriage in the United States. Girls Not Brides USA is composed of over 60 civil society organisations working to end child marriage wherever it occurs.
Girls Not Brides USA has been working for nearly a decade to elevate and prioritise the Government’s engagement on child marriage globally. Girls Not Brides USA was also instrumental in the inclusion of child marriage in the 2013 Reauthorisation of the Violence Against Women’ Act (VAWA), and for the development of a whole-of-government approach to ending child, early, and forced marriage. This led to the development of the U.S. Global Strategy to Empower Adolescent Girls, and the inclusion of child marriage in the U.S. Department of State’s annual country reports on human rights.
“Girls Not Brides USA has been integral in shaping US policy as it relates to adolescent girls’ empowerment through the development of a multi-agency strategy launched in 2015, helping to craft legislation like the Keeping Girls in School Act in 2017 in partnership with key coalitions and stakeholders, and advocating for the allocation of critical funds for child marriage programming. This work could not have been done without the collective work of partners.” Member of Girls Not Brides USA.
Child marriage has been included as a human rights abuse in the annual reports since 2012, and the whole-of-government approach is reflected in the U.S. Global Strategy to Empower Adolescent Girls, which was released in 2016. The U.S. Global Strategy to Empower Adolescent Girls was the first ever strategy to address the holistic needs of girls and to include specific implementation plans on the part of multiple agencies within the U.S. Government. Annually, coalition members make funding recommendations related to U.S. foreign assistance and efforts to end child marriage and address the needs of already married girls globally. Girls Not Brides USA members also engage at the United Nations to ensure that resolutions and other outcome language from UN bodies meaningfully include efforts to address child marriage. To that end, members worked together with other youth- and girl-focused groups globally to ensure that girls were included across the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and that Goal 5 particularly, which is focused on Gender Equality, has specific targets to address child marriage.
In support of a whole-of-government approach, Girls Not Brides USA developed a policy brief offering guidance to members of the U.S. government, as well as a technical brief that highlights potential strategies to delay the age of marriage and meet the needs of married children. Girls Not Brides USA continues to push Congress to fund the U.S. agencies most responsible for implementing the U.S. Global Strategy to Empower Adolescent Girls and is working to codify the Strategy through their lobbying efforts on the Keeping Girls in School Act of 2019. This bipartisan and bicameral legislation would, if enacted, work to address the barriers – including child marriage – that keep an estimated 130 million girls globally from attending school.
Girls Not Brides USA is co-chaired by the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW), the International Women’s Health Coalition (IWHC) and World Vision US.