Congressional Action to End Child Marriage Answers Urgent Call from Girls Across the Country

Legislation passed as part of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013

Washington, D.C. - (March 7, 2013) 

Today, the President will sign into law the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013. This legislation includes provisions to make ending child marriage in developing countries an official foreign policy priority of the U.S. government.  Nearly one third of girls in developing countries are married before their 18th birthday, and the enactment of this legislation is a bold statement by the U.S. government to address the needs of those girls.
 
The child marriage provision in the Violence Against Women Act, mirrors major pieces of legislation that Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL), then Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME), and Representatives Betty McCollum (D-MN) and Aaron Schock (R-IL) have been pushing for years. 

“Through the tireless work of Senators Durbin and Snowe and Representatives McCollum and Schock, millions of young girls worldwide will be a step closer to achieving an education, escaping poverty, and realizing their most basic human rights," said Melissa Hillebrenner, head of the Girl Up campaign. “This bill’s child marriage provisions are an answer to the tens of thousands of girls nationwide who reached out to their members of Congress through Girl Up and took a stand against child marriage.”

“This change to U.S. policy is a testament that together the power of youth voices and strong leadership in Washington can mobilize action on behalf of girls around the world,” continued Hillebrenner. Girl Up is part of a coalition, Girls Not Brides USA, that has been trying to pass child marriage legislation for years and raise awareness on the situations girls around the world face. “This is an amazing victory for girls but only a start in the battle to end child marriage. It is going to take a concerted voice of grassroots advocates, NGOs, the UN, and champions like Senator Durbin and Representatives McCollum and Schock, to root out this practice and give girls a chance to reach their full potential.”

Approximately 10 million girls are married before they are 18 years old, often with little or no say in the matter. Girls who marry at an early age often drop out of school or are denied an education, and they are more likely to have health complications, particularly from pregnancies before age 15. Girls who marry before they turn 18 are more likely to experience domestic violence than their peers who marry later.

Since 2010, Girl Up has been working with the United Nations to support comprehensive programs that prevent child marriage.

Media Contact: Andrea Austin; aaustin@unfoundation.org; (202) 384-9244


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About Girl Up
Girl Up, a campaign of the United Nations Foundation, gives American girls ages 13-18 the opportunity to channel their energy and compassion to raise awareness and funds for programs of the United Nations that help some of the world’s hardest-to-reach adolescent girls. Through Girl Up’s support, girls have the opportunity to become educated, healthy, safe, counted, and positioned to be the next generation of leaders. Go to GirlUp.org to learn more.
 
About the United Nations Foundation
The United Nations Foundation builds public-private partnerships to address the world’s most pressing problems, and broadens support for the United Nations through advocacy and public outreach. Through innovative campaigns and initiatives, the Foundation connects people, ideas, and resources to help the UN solve global problems. The Foundation was created in 1998 as a U.S. public charity by entrepreneur and philanthropist Ted Turner and now is supported by global corporations, foundations, governments, and individuals. For more information, visit www.unfoundation.org.

Media Contact:

Andrea Austin
aAustin@unfoundation.org
(202) 384-9244