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MEDIA RELEASE: Inclusion of “End child marriage” as indicator in High-Level Panel report on post-2015 development agenda is bold and crucial effort to address global poverty

31 May 2013

Girls Not Brides: The Global Partnership to End Child Marriage welcomes the report by the High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda to the United Nations Secretary-General. The Panel’s recommendation that the post-2015 development agenda include a goal to “Empower Girls and Women and Achieve Gender Equality” – and that progress on this goal is measured by achieving an end to child marriage – is a bold and crucial effort to address global poverty and improve the welfare of girls and women worldwide.

“Adolescent girls were largely absent from the Millennium Development Goals,” said Mabel van Oranje, Chair of the Advisory Committee of Girls Not Brides. “The recommendation that the new development agenda include a specific goal to empower girls and women is overdue recognition that if we’re to reduce global poverty, adolescent girls must be a focal point of our efforts. Ending child marriage is an essential part of this work.”

“The report recognises that child marriage undermines so many of our development efforts – to keep girls in school, to reduce maternal mortality, to ensure children survive infancy, and to reduce poverty,” said Lakshmi Sundaram, Global Coordinator of Girls Not Brides. “Measuring rates of child marriage, allows us to track progress on the health, well-being and education of girls as well as to assess whether they’re able to enjoy their fundamental rights.”

“A country’s rate of child marriage is a well-defined, measurable indicator of the welfare of its adolescent girls,” continued Ms Sundaram.

“We know that ending child marriage can break the cycle of poverty and unleash the potential of girls,” said Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda, General Secretary of the World YWCA. “We know that it is possible to end child marriage in a single generation.”

About child marriage

The High-Level Panel’s report recognises the global scope of this problem. Child marriage happens across cultures, religions and ethnicities. One in three girls in the developing world is married before they turn 18; one in nine girls is married before the age of 15. Every year, approximately 14 million girls are married before the age of 18.

  • Child brides usually drop out of school and are denied the opportunity to complete their education, significantly reducing their ability to earn an income.
  • Girls who give birth before the age of 15 are five times more likely to die in childbirth than women in their 20s.
  • The children of child brides are 60% more likely to die before their first birthday than the children of mothers who are over 19.
  • Girls who marry before the age of 18 are more likely to experience violence within marriage than women who marry later.

Child marriage is also a human rights violation. Measuring progress towards ending child marriage allows us to keep track of both the welfare of adolescent girls and gender inequality.

Increasing global attention on child marriage

The High-Level Panel’s report marks increasing international recognition of the importance of addressing child marriage. On the inaugural ‘International Day of the Girl Child’, 11 October 2012, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon highlighted the negative impact of child marriage and urged Governments, community and religious leaders, civil society, the private sector, and families – especially men and boys, to promote the rights of girls.

Girls Not Brides was launched in September 2011 by The Elders, a group of eminent global leaders, brought together by Nelson Mandela and including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Gro Harlem Brundtland, Graça Machel and Mary Robinson. Girls Not Brides is a global partnership of over 280 non-governmental organisations, across more than 50 countries, committed to ending child marriage.

About the High-Level Panel

In July 2012, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced the formation of a High-Level Panel to advise on the global development framework beyond 2015, the target date for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The Panel is co-chaired by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia, and Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom, and is made up of 27 members.


Media contact: Laura Dickinson, +447500864871