Girl summit to focus on child nuptials

- Post Report, Kathmandu

Mar 21, 2016-

The Girl Child Summit begins on Wednesday with focus on combating child marriage, contributing to the government’s move to end child-, early- and forceful marriages by 2030.

The Ministry of Women Children and Social Welfare, with support from Unicef and the DFID, is hosting the summit in Kathmandu, where around 60 children from Nepal’s 15 districts where child marriage is prevalent will present their views on the practice.

Morang, Saptari, Udayapur, Makwanpur, Rautahat, Kapilvastu, Rupandehi, Nawalparasi, Kalikot, Banke, Dailekh, Surkhet, Bajhang, Baitadi and Doti are the 15 districts with high prevalence of child marriage. The 60 children who will attend the summit have already held district consultations and pre-event workshops.

“Experience tells us that formulating law alone is not enough to wipe out this harmful practice. We can do it only by changing the social perception and we hope this summit will go a long way in helping us fulfil our commitment to ending child marriage by 2030,” said Shankar Prasad Pathak, acting secretary at the ministry.

He added that the government seeks to accelerate momentum around the issue of child marriage and other harmful social norms perpetuating child-, early- and forced marriages by bringing together young people, community members, activists, traditional and faith leaders, government and international leaders, experts and champions committed to gender equality, rights and empowerment of women and girls.

At the first Girl Child Summit held in London two years ago, Nepal had committed to end such marriages by 2030. This is Nepal’s first summit while Bangladesh, Uganda and Ethiopia have already held their girl child summits since the mega event in London, reaffirming the government’s commitment to ensure a future free from child marriage by 2030.

Gail Marzetti, the head of DFID Nepal, said it is not possible for a country to develop without developing its girl child and women.

According to Unicef representative Tomoo Hozumi, child marriage affects the reproductive health of the mother and is a cause of maternal and child mortality. “It’s the right of the individual to choose when and whom to marry,” said Hozumi.

According to the UN children’s agency, more than 7 million girls are married at an early age worldwide. In Nepal 24.5 per cent of women aged 15-19 years are currently married and an estimated 1.3 million adolescent girls aged between 10-19 years are at risk of being married as children.

UK’s Prince Harry, who is on an official visit to Nepal, is also scheduled to attend the summit.

Published: 21-03-2016 08:36

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