Planning for regional efforts to end child marriage
Kathmandu, 18 December 2012 – Dignitaries from the SAARC member states, civil society representatives and UN agencies came together in Kathmandu to review commitments and actions for the girl child and to develop regional action plan to end child marriage. The two-day consultative meeting organised by South Asian Initiative to End Violence against Children (SAIEVAC) in coordination with UNICEF and UNFPA, proved to be an excellent opportunity to showcase SAARC’s initiatives and also to come up with a tangible regional action plan to take the commitments forward.
The Regional Directors of UNICEF and UNFPA, the Chairperson of SAIEVAC Governing Board, the Chairperson of the Asian Forum of Parliamentarians on Population and Development (AFPPD) and the President or Secretary General of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation in Law (SAARCLAW) participated in the inaugural ceremony.
The first ever International Day of the Girl Child (IDGC) was celebrated on October 11 this year and addressed a vital issue of child marriage, which was also the theme for IDGC 2012. Keeping in line with the theme, the meeting discussed and prepared a regional action plan focusing on areas such as social norms, legal framework, community mobilisation, education, monitoring and evaluation, and prevention.
UNICEF Regional Director, Karin Hulshof, in her opening remarks, reiterated the need to end child marriage. “Ending child marriage is legally and morally right and contributes to the development of a country," she said, and added, "Child marriage is a violation of human rights as it denies children the right to health, nutrition, education, protection from violence, abuse and exploitation and deprives the child of his/her childhood.”
Child marriage is already a focus of UNICEF’s work. In 2011, 34 country offices, from all regions, reported efforts to address child marriage. An additional 24 countries mentioned it as a concern for their country. UNICEF is working to develop stronger programmes and policies at the country and global levels.