Many members of the Movement for Community-led Development are also members of Girls Not Brides (GNB), a global partnership of more than 1500 civil society committed to ending child marriage and enabling girls to fulfill their potential. Each year, 12 million girls are married before the age 18. Child marriage violates girls’ rights to health, education and opportunity. It exposes girls to violence throughout their lives, and traps them in a cycle of poverty.
Emergencies such as COVID-19 always see a spike in child marriage, as families struggle to make ends meet with livelihoods have disrupted.
Here in the USA, the transition underway with President Elect Biden presents GNB-USA with an opportunity to encourage the new administration to take certain key actions during the First 100 Days.
The memo makes five key recommendations:
1) Establish an inter-agency working group through executive order to review and improve the effectiveness and coordination of U.S. government efforts to end child marriage and address the needs of married girls globally.
2) Prioritize addressing child marriage holistically in the U.S. Government global COVID-19 response and recovery efforts by applying a gender lens across all efforts, and by ensuring specific funding and programming to prevent child marriage and respond to the needs of married girls.
3) Demonstrate high-level global commitment to ending child marriage and responding to the needs of married girls by announcing it as a U.S. foreign policy and assistance priority during the 65th session of the Commission on the Status of Women in March 2021.
4) Issue guidance from the National Security Council (NSC) to relevant agencies for civil society consultations that prioritize the safe and meaningful participation of adolescent girls, including girl-led groups and networks.
5) Include funding for global programming in the President’s Budget Request that addresses the unique and intersecting needs of adolescent girls at risk of child marriage and already married girls.
President-Elect Biden, when he served in the Senate, first introduced the Violence Against Women Act in 1990 which became law for the USA, and an International Violence Against Women Act in 2007 which did not become law. During his campaign he promised to restore US support these efforts.