Belgian parliament adopts resolution urging government to prioritise child marriage in development & cooperation policy

Plan Belgium - Lisa Develtere

Yesterday, the Belgian Parliament unanimously adopted a resolution calling for more efforts to help end child, early, and forced marriage.

The resolution calls on the Belgian government to address child marriage as part of its development and cooperation policy. With 7* out of 18 official partner countries with prevalence rates higher than 30%, Belgium needed a strong commitment to address child, early and forced marriage.

Belgium is about to renew its cooperation agreement with Niger, the country with the highest percentage of child marriages. It is a good time to see what can and must be done, starting from a sound understanding of mechanisms at the community level all the way up to legislation enforcement.

The resolution also urges the Belgian government to prioritise ending child, early and forced marriage in negotiations on the post-2015 development framework, including by supporting an indicator measuring progress on the issue.

This resolution will help to push for clear and ambitious indicators to measure progress with regards to this typical form of gender based violence.

Immediately after the vote in Parliament, Belgian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Development Cooperation Alexander De Croo commented: “Child marriage is a complex problem: parents often do not want to send their daughters off at a young age but because of poverty or traditions, they feel like they have no choice. Within the Belgian development cooperation we explore all the options to address this vital human rights issue and to prevent that these young girls lose their childhood and their future,”

The resolution follows Girls Not Brides member Plan Belgium’s advocacy efforts and campaign to end child marriage which launched in October last year.

* These countries are: Niger, Mali, Mozambique, Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania and Benin.

Read Plan Belgium’s press release (in French)

Read the resolution (in Dutch and French)

Read Plan Belgium’s report: Child and forced marriage: a blind spot in the Belgian development co-operation? (in English)