22 November, 2014 - Plan welcomes historic UN resolution to end child marriage

Child rights organisation and NGO Plan International Australia welcomes today’s historic United Nations resolution on ending child, early and forced marriage.

The resolution was adopted during the 69th session of the General Assembly this morning, and is a landmark step in protecting the basic human rights of millions of girls. Plan has been at the forefront of global efforts in ending child marriage and earlier this year released a comprehensive report in Australia on the issue in our region, while urging the Federal Government to advocate for the UN resolution.

The resolution urges all countries to enact, enforce and uphold laws and policies aimed at preventing and ending child, early and forced marriage and protecting those at risk. It also calls on countries to ensure that marriage is entered into only with the informed, free and full consent of the intending spouses.

According to the latest statistics nearly 41,000 girls under 18 are married worldwide every day. One in three girls in the developing world will be married by their eighteenth birthday. If the current trend continues, more than 140 million girls will be married as children by 2020.

“Child marriage is a violation of children’s human rights. Despite being prohibited by international human rights law and many national laws, child marriage continues to rob millions of girls around the world of their childhood. It forces them out of education and into a life of poor prospects, with increased risk of violence, abuse, ill health or death,” says Plan International CEO Ian Wishart.

“The UN resolution must not stay on paper and should serve as a force to galvanise nations to act and protect lives and futures of millions of girls,” Wishart adds.

The resolution also recognises education as one of the most effective ways to prevent and end child marriage, calling for the promotion and protection of women and girls’ right to education through quality education.

“Girls with no education are three times more likely to marry before 18 than those with a secondary or higher education. It is absolutely clear that education is key to delaying marriage, to giving girls more choices and opportunities, and enabling them to realise their full potential,” Wishart says.

The resolution puts child marriage, and girls’ human rights, at the heart of development, stressing that child marriage hinders six of the eight Millennium Development Goals.

Earlier this year, the Australian Federal Government signed an international charter to end child marriage. The move followed the release of a report by Plan, Just Married, Just a Child: Child Marriage in the Indo-Pacific Region (*pdf). The report urged the government to play a key role in ending child marriage through its foreign aid program and by advocating for the UN resolution to end the practice.

Editors’ notes:
Plan is one of the oldest and largest children's development organisations in the world, founded 75 years ago, working in 50 developing countries across Africa, Asia and the Americas and supported by 21 donor countries. Plan is independent, with no religious or political affiliations.

Media contact: Adam Cathro, Plan International Australia, Media Relations Manager, 0488 202 945