Child marriage is a global crisis that demands urgent attention. Every year, an estimated 12 million girls are forced into marriage before they reach the age of 18. Boys are also affected, but to a lesser extent. This practice perpetuates poverty and inequality, and has devastating consequences for the health and well-being of children.
Thankfully, major organizations such as the United Nations and UNICEF are leading efforts to end child marriage by 2030. The Girls Not Brides partnership and Human Rights Watch campaign are also working to promote policy and legal reforms that protect girls and prevent child marriage.
Former First Lady Michelle Obama is drawing more attention to the issue today, sharing a shocking report on child marriage and calling the practice “one of the greatest threats to girls’ education and empowerment worldwide.”
Child marriage is one of the greatest threats to girls' education and empowerment worldwide—and an important new report from @UNICEF shows the challenges that remain to ending this practice. I hope you’ll take the time to read it: https://t.co/oJmZdEGSXy pic.twitter.com/WGLLgmWfWz— Michelle Obama (@MichelleObama) May 9, 2023
Obama points to a UNICEF report that shocks with its very first statistic stating “an estimated 640 million girls and women alive today were married in childhood.”
“Nearly half of child brides live in South Asia (45 per cent) with the next largest share in sub-Saharan Africa (20 per cent),” the report says, “followed by East Asia and the Pacific (15 per cent) and Latin America and the Caribbean (9 per cent).”
And about that established goal of ending child marriage by 2030, UNICEF says “progress would need to be nearly 20 times faster to reach the target of ending child marriage by 2030.”