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“The practice of child marriage must be ended everywhere” says UN Secretary-General in report to the General Assembly

The Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, has released his annual report to the UN General Assembly in which he reports on progress in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a set of goals agreed upon by the international community to help reduce global poverty that are due to expire in 2015.

In his long-awaited report, Ban Ki-moon reflects on a new development agenda to begin in 2015 and writes that to bring to life a new vision for the international community, a number of “transformative actions” will be required that apply to all countries, one of which is the need to empower women and girls.

“The new agenda must ensure the equal rights of women and girls, their full participation in the political, economic and public spheres and zero tolerance for violence against or exploitation of women and girls,” writes the Secretary-General.

The practice of child marriage must be ended everywhere.

Ban Ki-moon

Importantly, he emphasised that to achieve this “The practice of child marriage must be ended everywhere.”

The Secretary-General’s comments are welcome and add further weight to the argument that to reduce global poverty, empowering girls and women should be at the heart of our efforts. It also underlines that we will not build a healthier, safer, more prosperous world unless we end child marriage, a problem that undermines six of the eight current Millennium Development Goals.

Ban Ki-moon’s report follows a report released in May 2013 by a High Level Panel, appointed by the UN Secretary-General, which recommended that new development goals should include a specific goal to “Empower girls and women” and that progress on this goal should be measured by a reduction in child marriage.

The Secretary-General’s report will be presented and discussed at a special event of the President of the General Assembly on 25 September 2013, which will seek to define a framework for upcoming negotiations among governments on what a new development agenda for the international community will look like.

“As we make the transition to this new era, we need to continue the work begun with the Millennium Development Goals and ensure that extreme poverty is ended within a generation,” writes Ban Ki-moon in the report. “In keeping with United Nations principles, this post-2015 framework can bring together the full range of human aspirations and needs to ensure a life of dignity for all.”