On 15 November 2018, the United Nations General Assembly’s 3rd Committee (UNGA) agreed a third resolution on child, early and forced marriage (CEFM).
This is an important moment as the resolution calls on UN Member States to strengthen and accelerate action to address child marriage, and makes important new contributions to the debate.
The call to action and continued progress are crucial in keeping up international pressure on member states to implement their commitment to eliminate child marriage by 2030 in the SDGS.
The resolution was led by Canada and Zambia, and was co-sponsored by 114 member states. An additional twelve member states joined as co-sponsors this year - an increase from the previous 2016 resolution. Many Girls Not Brides members called on their governments to co-sponsor the resolution and this is an important success for the Partnership.
What does this resolution say about child marriage?
The resolution seeks to maintain and build upon important language agreed in previous resolutions on the issue of child, early and forced marriage (CEFM). It highlighted three key areas:
This resolution also made some important gains, including new language on several areas:
- CEFM is a ‘harmful practice that violates, abuses or impairs human rights’, and gender inequality is a root cause of CEFM. It’s a ‘barrier to the empowerment of all women and girls’. It also highlights poverty, insecurity, early pregnancy and lack of education as factors behind CEFM.
- Humanitarian emergencies and situations of forced displacement can increase the incidence and risk of CEFM. This requires increased attention.
- CEFM, ‘remains a serious threat to multiple aspects of the physical and physiological health of women and girls’. Examples include sexual and reproductive health, early pregnancy, and HIV & AIDS.
- The rights of married girls are emphasised through the resolution for the first time. There is recognition of the need to support women and girls subjected to CEFM, as well as their children. This underscores the ‘importance of removing structural barriers that prevent their access to services that respond to their specific needs.’
- The important role that families, communities and religious, traditional and community leaders play in transforming negative social norms and confronting gender inequality.
- The importance of acknowledging informal unions in the response to CEFM. The practice of CEFM may include unions that are ‘not formalized, registered or recognized by a religious or state authority’.
What does the resolution call on the UN and member states to do?
The resolution calls for specific action from governments and the international community, including:
Co-sponsors of the 2018 resolution
- A request for the UN Secretary General to produce a comprehensive report on progress made to end CEFM before the end of the General Assembly’s 74th session.
- Calls on governments and the international community to improve the collection and use of data to better understand and respond to CEFM.
- An invitation to the Commission on the Status of the Women to consider CEFM at its 64th session in 2020, to coincide with the 25th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women.
Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cabo Verde, Canada, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, Colombia, Comoros, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Kiribati, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Malta, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Romania, San Marino, Sao Tome and Principe. Senegal, Serbia, Seychelles, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, South Sudan, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tanzania, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey , Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Venezuela, Vietnam, Zambia, Zimbabwe
In the time it has taken to read this article 40 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
Girls Not Brides
Zoe is the Global Policy & Advocacy Officer at Girls Not Brides. She develops global-level policy strategies, recommendations and initiatives, and supports the engagement and alignment of member organisations in global advocacy.