Country: United States of America
Delegate Name: Rachel Verbrugge
Child marriages have been an increasingly big issue as the population of developing countries, and it negatively impacts the lives of girls in countries all around the world. Child marriages are defined by the UN Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner as “any marriage where at least one of the parties is under eighteen years of age”. While many families who participate in this practice believe that marrying their daughter young will provide economic opportunities and lift families out of poverty. However, as a result of child marriages, there are several negative effects for girls including increased amounts of higher risk of STDs, dangerous pregnancies, social isolation, interruption of schooling, and limiting career and vocational advancement opportunities. Central and West Africa have the highest rates of child marriages at 40% of girls under eighteen getting married, this is most likely due to the poverty in these locations.The UN works to help this issue because it is a barrier to gender inequality as identified in the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.
In the United States there is no federal law banning child marriages, which means it is up to the states to establish legislation on the issue. Currently, in the United States only six states have completely banned child marriages, and the other 44 states still allow the marriage of children under the age of 18 under certain circumstances. In 86% of child marriages it is between a girl minor and an adult male, and the negative consequences for girls are a clear violation of child rights. The United Nations called for the end of child marriage and female genital mutilation by 2030 in Sustainable Development Goal 5, and as the United States continues to increase the amount of states banning child marriages, they get closer to achieving this goal.
The United States suggests that countries adopt similar practices to the United States by passing legislation to ban child marriages. There also needs to be work done to increase the economic opportunities available to families in poverty so that child marriage doesn’t seem like the only option. Additionally, it is necessary to create programs encouraging more education opportunities for girls beyond elementary and middle school, as well as providing options for careers outside of the home.