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Stopping Child Marriage

Mina, 8, center, follows her new husband as she visits a temple with Sukhram, 22, right, and his family members. (file)

Every year, 10 million girls under the age of 18 become child brides.

In too many countries, girls are neglected, marginalized, kept out of school, victimized by violence. But one of the greatest threats to the well-being of girls is child marriage.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton notes that too many girls fall victim to this scourge:

“Every year, 10 million girls under the age of 18 become child brides, and many of them under the age of 16. And many of those girls are forced into early marriage, which robs them of the opportunity to continue their education, and it threatens their health, and it traps them in lives of poverty.”

Education is one of the most effective solutions to child marriage, said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

“The evidence shows us . . . that education can delay and even prevent child marriage, it can raise incomes, and it certainly can improve health,” said Secretary Clinton.

In fact, educating girls results in tremendous benefits not just for the girls themselves, but also for their families, their communities, and ultimately their countries. Numerous studies have shown that there is no better remedy for poverty and instability than to invest in the education of girls. Families and communities that educate their girls consistently see a steady increase in household incomes, healthier children, smaller family size, a more active civil society, better local governance and improved services.

For these reasons, the United States is launching a number of initiatives to try to prevent child marriage and promote girls’ education, said Secretary Clinton. “We’ve done a lot of this work for a long time. This is not a new commitment, but we have refocused it and elevated it to be one of the primary commitments within our overall decision that girls and women have to be at the heart of our foreign policy,” she said.

“We’re doing all of this because we want to try to give to every girl what we want for our own daughters. . . . And what we want to do is to make the case for education everywhere and to give every girl and every boy the opportunity to live up to his or her God-given potential no matter where they live.”