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U.S. Joins Global Campaign to Stop Child Marriage
October 11, 2012

By Charlene Porter
IIP Staff Writer
10 October 2012

A young girl in a tent
This girl in Niger was married to a 23-year-old man in 2011 just after her 12th birthday. Niger has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced October 10 that the United States will join a campaign to stop child marriage by the year 2030.

Clinton made the announcement before an audience of Girl Scouts, invited to the State Department in recognition of the International Day of the Girl, a U.N. commemoration set for October 11.

The secretary began began her remarks by describing a “very brave” Pakistani girl, Malala Yousufzai. She has achieved wide recognition for her assertion of girls’ rights to education, but was shot October 9 in an attack by extremists opposed to the education of women. Clinton said, “Yesterday’s attack reminds us of the challenges that girls face, whether it’s poverty or marginalization or even violence, just for speaking out for their basic rights.”

The U.S. State Department has a history of denouncing child marriage, but Clinton committed the nation to greater efforts to end the practice in the next 17 years.

Each year, 10 million girls under 18 are forced into marriage, Clinton said, “which robs them of the opportunity to continue education, and it threatens health and traps them in lives of poverty.”

In keeping with her previously announced intention to keep the concerns of girls and women at the heart of U.S. foreign policy, Clinton outlined the steps the nation will take to help end child marriage:

• The State Department will focus greater attention on the issue in its annual global assessment of human rights.

• The U.S. Agency for International Development will join the government of Bangladesh in a campaign to assess a variety of approaches to discourage child marriage.

• USAID and the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) will tackle barriers, such as cost and safety, that keep girls in the Democratic Republic of the Congo from continuing their education.

• Every international teacher who comes to the United States for training programs will learn how to help girls stay in school and complete their education.