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Child marriage “a fundamental threat to human rights” – Barack Obama

President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and their daughter Malia meet with Malala Yousafzai, the young Pakistani schoolgirl who was shot in the head by the Taliban a year ago, in the Oval Office, Oct. 11, 2013. | Official White House photo by Pete Souza

In a Presidential Proclamation issued on International Day of the Girl Child, 11 October 2013, President Barack Obama emphasised the US government’s commitment to promoting the rights of girls and ensuring equality for all.

“On International Day of the Girl,” he stated, “we stand firm in the belief that all men and women are created equal, and we advance the vision of a world where girls and boys look to the future with the same sense of promise and possibility.”

He drew particular attention to his Administration’s work on the issue of child marriage, a practice that he described as “a threat to fundamental human rights”.

He closed his message with a vision of what could be achieved if every girl was able to complete her education and fulfil her potential:

“As we observe this day, there is a girl in an unknown country who will grow to spark the next great scientific revolution, but only if she gets a shot at a higher education.

“Across the globe there are girls who will one day lead nations, if only we afford them the chance to choose their own destinies.

“And on every continent, there are girls who will go on to change the world in ways we can only imagine, if only we allow them the freedom to dream.”

Read the full statement: Presidential Proclamation – International Day of the Girl, 2013