United Nations Press Release
 
Ending Child Marriage: Focus of the First International Day of the Girl Child
 
Archbishop Desmond Tutu joins the United Nations
 to promote the rights of girls and seek end to child marriage --
approximately 70 million young women today were married before age 18
 
New York, 10 October 2012 – The first International Day of the Girl Child will be observed around the world tomorrow, 11 October, focusing on the need to end the harmful practice of child marriage.
 
At UN Headquarters, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Chair of The Elders, founders of Girls Not Brides: The Global Partnership to End Child Marriage, will join UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and representatives of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and UN Women for a high-level panel discussion to address child marriage, a fundamental human rights violation that impacts all aspects of a girl’s life.
 
Child marriage denies a girl her childhood, disrupts her education, limits her opportunities, increases her risk of being a victim of violence and abuse, jeopardizes her health and constitutes an obstacle to the achievement of nearly every Millennium Development Goal (MDG) and the development of healthy communities.

Globally, around one in three young women aged 20-24 years were first married before they reached age 18. One third of them entered into marriage before they turned 15. Child marriage often results in early and unwanted pregnancies, posing life-threatening risks for girls. In developing countries, 90 per cent of births to adolescents aged 15-19 are to married girls, and pregnancy-related complications are the leading cause of death for girls in this age group.

Girls with low levels of schooling are more likely to be married early, and child marriage has been shown to almost always end a girl’s education. Conversely, girls with secondary schooling are up to six times less likely to marry as children, making education one of the most effective ways of combating child marriage.

“Education for girls is one of the best strategies for protecting girls against child marriage”, said the UN Secretary-General. “When they are able to stay in school and avoid being married early, girls can build a foundation for a better life for themselves and their families”.
 
 “Let us do our part to let girls be girls, not brides,” concluded Mr. Ban, calling upon the international community to end this harmful practice.
 
The International Day of the Girl Child was designated as 11 October by UN General Assembly Resolution 66/170, adopted on 19 December 2011, to recognize girls’ rights and highlight the unique challenges girls face around the world.

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New York observance

At UN Headquarters, a high-level panel discussion, co-organized by UNFPA, UNICEF, UN Women and Girls Not Brides, will take place on Thursday, 11 October, from 1:15 to 2:45 pm New York time in Conference Room 4 (North Lawn Building).
The panellists will include: UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon; Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Chair of The Elders, founders of Girls Not Brides: The Global Partnership to End Child Marriage; Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury, State Minister for Women and Children Affairs, Bangladesh; Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director, UNFPA; Michelle Bachelet, Executive Director, UN Women; Geeta Rao Gupta, Deputy Executive Director, UNICEF; and Salamatou Aghali Issoufa, youth activist, Niger. The event will be moderated by Ann Curry, anchor for NBC News.
Live webcast at: http://webtv.un.org, and more information available at http://www.un.org/en/events/girlchild or through Twitter #girlchild #endchildmarriage.
The event is open to all UN grounds pass holders.
For media without credentials, visit: www.un.org/en/media/accreditation
 
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Available for Interviews

- Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, UNFPA Executive Director; contact: Mandy Kibel, UNFPA, tel: +1 212 297 5293, email: kibel@unfpa.org
- Michelle Bachelet, Executive Director, UN Women; contact: Nuria Felipe Soria, tel: +1 646-781-4631, email: nuria.felipe.soria@unwomen.org (English, Spanish)
- Anju Malhotra, Principle Advisor, Gender and Rights Unit (GRACE), UNICEF; contact: Rebecca Fordham, UNICEF, tel: +1 212 326 7162, email: rfordham@unicef.org
- Moez Doraid, Director of UN System Coordination, UN Women: contact: Maria Zaide-Capistrano, tel: +1 646-781-4520, email: maria.zaide-capistrano@unwomen.org (English, Arabic)
- Edilberto Loaiza, Senior Monitoring and Evaluation Adviser, UNFPA; contact: Mandy Kibel, UNFPA, tel: +1 212 297 5293, email: kibel@unfpa.org
- Salamatou Aghali Issoufa, youth activist, Niger; contact: Mandy Kibel, UNFPA, tel: +1 212 297 5293, email: kibel@unfpa.org
- Susan Bissell, Chief of Child Protection, UNICEF; contact: Rebecca Fordham, UNICEF, tel: +1 212.326.7162, email: rfordham@unicef.org
 
Media Contacts

- Mandy Kibel, UNFPA, tel: +1 212 297 5293, email: kibel@unfpa.org,  
- Peter Smerdon, UNICEF, tel: +1 212 303 7984, email: psmerdon@unicef.org
- Nuria Felipe Soria, UN Women, tel: +1 646 781-4631, email: nuria.felipe.soria@unwomen.org
- Melanie Prudhomme, UN Department of Public Information, tel: +1 917-367-3541, email: prudhommem@un.org
 
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Issued by the UN Department of Public Information