Delegate Name: Audrey Wong
Saginaw Arts and Sciences Academy
Child marriage is a pressing global problem that has been on the rise for years; it affects young girls disproportionately as a result of continued gender inequality. The situation has been escalating, especially in developing countries in West and Central Africa, where almost 40% of girls under the age of 18 get married off to men. Approximately a staggering 37,000 underage girls are married off per day, which is the highest this number has ever been. From a struggling family’s mindset, there are supposed benefits to marrying daughters off early. For example, families believe that marrying off their daughters will relieve their economic burden, entering a dowry with the man they are marrying their daughter to and lessening their stress. However, the disadvantages of child marriage greatly outweigh the advantages. Disregarding the numbers on the global scale, child marriage has personal and long-term effects on a woman’s life. Marrying young puts a full stop to a woman’s education, greatly increases her risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and puts her more at risk for domestic abuse. Based on these few examples of the detriments of child marriage alone, the delegation of Brazil implores that this situation must be dealt with promptly. Action has been taken already, but it is not enough. In 2016, the United Nations announced an initiative to end child marriage by 2030, an ambitious but very achievable goal. Their solutions as a part of this programme are to educate families and children about the dangers of child marriage, provide more economic support to struggling families, create and enforce laws against marrying before the age of 18, and increase women’s access to education and healthcare services.
Brazil has the fourth-highest number of underage marriages worldwide at 3,034,000, with about 36% of Brazilian girls being married before they are 18 years old. In 2019, the government of Brazil passed a law stating that children must not be married under the age of 16, regardless of any circumstance. This law was passed after the pressure was put on by politicians and NGOs, including Plan International. In 2018, the UN adopted its third resolution addressing child, early, and forced marriage (CEFM). This resolution was headed by Canada and Zambia and co-sponsored by 114 member states. The resolution emphasized points made in previous resolutions, but also addressed some important areas such as the root cause of CEFM being gender inequality and emphasizing the rights of girls who are already married. Brazil was one of those 114 co-sponsors. This is a big step in the right direction, but there is still work to be done.
The delegation of Brazil believes that the minimum marrying age must be raised to 18, regardless of circumstance. Children aged 16 and 17 should never be married off. Also, providing families with education about why child marriage is harmful and providing them with economic support is necessary. The money needed for this economic support could be garnered from countries’ governments or generous donations from willing and wealthier countries. NGOs such as Action on Child Early and Forced Marriage or VOW for Girls also will be able to financially support international action. Brazil is looking forward to working with fellow delegates to come to an effective consensus addressing this issue.
“An NGO.” Action on Child Early and Forced Marriage, http://actiononchildearlyandforcedmarriage.org/.
“Brazil Bans Child Marriage for under 16’s.” Plan International, 22 Mar. 2019, https://plan-international.org/news/2019-03-22-brazil-bans-child-marriage-under-16s.
“Child Marriage.” UNICEF, 7 Mar. 2021, https://www.unicef.org/protection/child-marriage.
“Impact.” VOW for Girls, 23 Nov. 2021, https://vowforgirls.org/impact/.
“New UN Initiative Aims to Protect Millions of Girls from Child Marriage – Office of the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth.” United Nations, United Nations, https://www.un.org/youthenvoy/2016/03/new-un-initiative-aims-to-protect-millions-of-girls-from-child-marriage/.
“The Facts on Child Marriage.” International Women’s Health Coalition, 23 May 2018, https://iwhc.org/resources/facts-child-marriage/.
“UN General Assembly Adopts 3rd Resolution on Child, Early, and Forced Marriage.” Girls Not Brides, 13 Dec. 2018, https://www.girlsnotbrides.org/articles/un-general-assembly-adopts-3rd-resolution-on-child-early-and-forced-marriage/.