UN: UN announces new initiative to protect millions of girls from child marriage

New York, US (PANA) - The UN announced a new initiative on Tuesday to advance efforts to end child marriage by 2030 and protect the rights of millions of the most vulnerable girls around the world.

The initiative by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), announced on International Women’s Day, is part of a global effort to prevent girls from marrying too young and to support those already married as girls in 12 countries across Africa, Asia and the Middle East where child marriage rates are high.

UNFPA’s Executive Director, Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, in a statement, obtained by PANA in New York, stated: "Choosing when and whom to marry is one of life’s most important decisions. Child marriage denies millions of girls this choice each year."

"As part of this global programme, we will work with governments of countries with a high prevalence of child marriage to uphold the rights of adolescent girls, so that girls can reach their potential and countries can attain their social and economic development goals," he said.

He noted that, with the involvement of families, communities, governments and young people, the initiative will focus on proven strategies, including increasing girls’ access to education and health care services, educating parents and communities on the dangers of child marriage, increasing economic support to families, and strengthening and enforcing laws that establish 18 years as the minimum age of marriage.

On his part, UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake said: "The world has awakened to the damage child marriage causes to individual girls, to their future children, and to their societies, and this new global programme will help drive action to reach the girls at greatest risk and help more girls and young women realize their right to dictate their own destinies."

"This is critical now because if current trends continue, the number of girls and women married as children will reach nearly 1 billion by 2030 – 1 billion childhoods lost, 1 billion futures blighted," Mr. Lake said.

The UN noted that child marriage is a violation of the rights of girls and women.

It said girls who were married as children were more likely to be out of school, suffer domestic violence, contract HIV/AIDS and die due to complications during pregnancy and childbirth, and also child marriage hurt economies and led to inter-generational cycles of poverty.
-0- PANA AA/MA 8March2016

08 march 2016 19:29:38

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