Update: Nepal holds Girl Summit on Ending Child Marriage

Photo credit: UNICEF Nepal.

Today, the Government of Nepal held its first Girl Summit dedicated to child marriage, an issue that affects 41% of girls in the country. 10% of girls are married before they even reach their 15th birthday.

Organised by the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare (MoWCSW), with support from DFID and UNICEF, the one-day event follows the Government’s commitment, at the 2014 London Girl Summit, to end child marriage by 2030.

Opening the event, the UK’s HRH Prince Harry celebrated progress made to address child marriage in Nepal, yet called for more action to empower girls and enforce laws.

He said: “I recognise that each country must find its own path; and that here in Nepal, this is a complex social challenge. But it is one that the Government is tackling and is making progress in its hope of ending child marriage by 2030; it has fallen by 10 per cent over the last decade and the practice is now banned by law. Therefore the focus can now turn toward enforcement and education.”

Mr Chandra Prasad Mainali, Deputy Prime Minister of Nepal and Minister of MoWCSW, announced an upcoming national strategy against child marriage to streamline the Government’s legal, policy and programmatic initiatives.

Importantly the strategy recognises that laws and services alone are not enough to address child marriage and addresses the importance of empowering girls as well as engaging families and communities to change social norms which hold girls back. The national strategy, developed with the support of Girls Not Brides Nepal, is said to have a comprehensive and cross-sectoral approach to addressing child marriage based on 6 strategy priorities:

  • Empowering girls (including economic empowerment)
  • Providing quality education for girls
  • Engaging men and boys
  • Mobilising families and communities
  • Strengthening and providing services; and
  • Implementing laws and policies

However, plans to adopt the national strategy and develop its implementation have continued to stall. Human Rights Watch, a Girls Not Brides member, called on the Nepalese Government to develop a clear action plan to end child marriage.

They said: “The government says it plans to develop a more detailed national action plan, but there is no clear timeline for when the plan will be drafted or completed. The March 23 Girl Summit should be a moment to restore momentum by setting a clear timeline for developing a detailed and comprehensive national plan of action. Nepal’s children deserve nothing less.”

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About Nepal’s pledge at the London Girl Summit:

At the 2014 Girl Summit, held in London, UK, the Government of Nepal made an ambitious five-point pledge to end child marriage and promote the position of girls and women by:

  • Declaring child marriage as an unacceptable social practice and a punishable crime;
  • Working hand in hand with adolescent girls and boys in meaningful and innovative ways to inspire and involve them in ending child marriage;
  • Directly engaging boys and men as active participants in actions to end child marriage;
  • Strengthening inter-sectoral mechanisms within and beyond Government systems to share evidence-based best practices and celebrate successful interventions to end child marriage, and
  • Calling on all stakeholders to recognise and demonstrate their deepest commitment to this national priority of ending child marriage and to contribute the necessary technical and financial resources towards actions for achieving this goal.

About the national strategy to end child marriage in Nepal:

About child marriage in Nepal: