Child Marriage Prevention Task Force’s Report
by Giuseppina Seidita, Chair
Child marriage is a serious violation of human rights. The battle against child marriage is in relation to SDG 5,Target 5.3 as well as SDG4. Statistics have shown that a girl under the age of 18 gets married every three seconds – that is, 10 million underage girls are married each year – most often without their consent and most likely to an older man. Most of these marriages take place in Africa, predominantly in sub Saharan Africa; in Niger, Chad and Mali more than 70% of the girls are already married before the age of 18.
The main causes of the phenomenon are the entrenched poverty, cultural norms and religious beliefs deeply rooted in patriarchal tradition.
Child marriage compromises the efforts to reduce gender-based violence, to increase education, to overcome poverty and improve health indicators for girls and women.
Most countries have adopted laws governing the spread of the phenomenon, but other customary and religious laws have a greater influence on the family life or personal issues.
There is the need for greater efforts to increase investments in economic empowerment programs to educate girls and awareness-raising campaigns.
The members of the Task Force have always cooperated with BPW clubs to tackle and fight this terrible phenomenon.
During CSW 62 and CSW 63, I participated in New York at some side events about Child Marriage to present our activities.
We organized some workshops about Child Marriage during the 16th European Conference in Galway and the 12th and 13th African Congress for women entrepreneurs in Cairo.
In various countries we coordinated a lot of meetings to realize an information and awareness campaign expecially in the schools.
I think we need to create a network between our clubs and other organizations to work together against this phenomenon. I organised some meetings with Lions and Leo club to create a partnership.
Today the problem exists even in Europe because we have many migrants from African countries and from countries at war.
We think it is necessary to raise awareness among governments and to promote the education and the empowerment among young women to change this poor situation.
I organized a fundraising campaign to help build a school in Tanzania with Mama Monghella, to implement education and to fight child marriage. Thanks to my friend and BPW Italy member Susy Gillo who wrote a book The Child Bride, offered to BPW members in Sicily.
In Sicily, with club BPW Messina Capo Peloro, we achieved an opportunity to create media awareness of this phenomenon with a symbol for the campaign against child marriage: a white zagara flower. We made a pin offered to all BPW members around the world.
We also conducted a survey with our members about Child Marriage, analyzed the results and created a power point for all BPW members.
I hope we will be able to eliminate this terrible phenomenon very soon.
Workbook 2021, p. 54