United Nations Human Rights Council, 29th Session (15th June – 3rd July 2015)
Panel discussion on realizing the equal enjoyment of the right to education by every girl, 16th June 2015
An educated girl has the skills and power to change both hers and her family’s circumstances. This panel singled out child, early and forced marriage and we would like to stress its importance.
It means that 15 million girls are expected to marry not study. They are viewed as commodities. Their role as potential educators is ignored. How can illiterate mothers be expected to raise engaged children? Their potential as loving parents is disrespected. How can they inspire confidence in children who are the product of forced pregnancy? Child brides not only eliminate 50% of a country’s economic potential, the practice also undermines their children’s and communities’ potential.
All countries are affected by child marriage, whether legalised or arising unlawfully within communities. There has been some shy success. In Malawi, marriage under 18 has finally been outlawed; the UK reiterated its commitment through its Modern Slavery Act, and civil society groups in Pakistan are focusing on educating boys. On the contrary, Bangladesh, for example, delivered a swift blow by attempting to lower the marriage age to 16. States repeatedly fail to tackle entrenched practices based on displaced concepts of community, tradition and honour.
Child marriage guillotines girls’ access to education. We hope this panel will give it due attention. Similarly, girls’ right to education should be highlighted in the upcoming resolution on child, early and forced marriage.
 Concept note (as of 10 June 2015), Panel discussion on realizing the equal enjoyment of the right to education by every girl, 29th session of the Human Rights Council.
 Top ten countries with highest rates of child marriage: Niger, Central African Republic, Chad, Bangladesh, Mali, Guinea, South Sudan, Burkina Faso, Malawi, Mozambique. Source: Vogelstein, R, Ending Child Marriage, “How elevating the status of girls advances US foreign policy objectives”, Council on Foreign Relations, 2013.
'Girl's right to education', Humanists International