Equality for women and girls is “the great unfinished business of the 21
century”, former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told the UN on International Women’s Day. “When women and girls thrive, entire societies thrive.”
The former US Secretary of State urged States to “put women and girls and the cause of gender equality at the heart of our new development agenda, both as a specific goal, and integrated into every goal.”
Importantly, she stressed that ending gender-based violence and early and forced marriage would be necessary steps to achieving equality for women and girls.
We must ensure that we bring an end to gender-based violence and to early and forced marriage.Hillary Clinton
Secretary Clinton’s comments come as States convene at the United Nations for the annual Commission on the Status of Women to assess challenges and achievements in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for women and girls. These discussions will feed into the next set of development goals for the international community once the MDGs expire in 2015.
Ending child marriage must be an integral part of these discussions.
Clinton added “we cannot make progress on gender equality or broader human development without safeguarding women’s reproductive health and rights.” Adolescent girls are among the most vulnerable and marginalised groups with limited access to family planning knowledge and services.
To ensure we fulfil our promises to women and girls, Clinton emphasised that “we will need clear targets and concrete metrics with gender-sensitive indicators and sex-disaggregated data”.
Changes in prevalence rates of child marriage could be a clear and well-defined indicator for the international community to measure and track progress made on adolescent girls’ rights and wellbeing in the next development framework.
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In the time it has taken to read this article 18 girls under the age of 18 have been married
Each year, 12 million girls are married before the age of 18
That is 23 girls every minute
Nearly 1 every 3 seconds