A woman’s wedding day is supposed to be one of the happiest of her life, celebrating the love and commitment between her and another, with whom the choice to wed was made freely and together.
Yet for too many girls around the world denied that choice and forced into marriage or informal union with no say or means of escape, that day can be among the most joyless. Each year, 12 million girls are married before their 18th birthday. If progress toward the Sustainable Development Goal of ending the harmful practice by 2030 is not accelerated, the world will see more than 150 million girls who become brides too young.
Rooted in poverty and gender inequality, child marriage damages a girl’s health and well-being. Young girls’ bodies may not be ready for pregnancy; in developing countries, pregnancy and childbirth complications are the leading cause of death for girls aged 15 - 19. They’re also at risk of sexually transmitted infections, domestic violence and social isolation. They drop out of school, which limits their ability to earn an income.
This Valentine’s Day, the Swarovski Foundation and UNFPA have called on the international community to say #IDONT to show support for girls the world over who say “I do” against their will.
Child marriage is a human rights violation that denies a girl her bodily autonomy. It marks the end of childhood and choice when marriage should be the dawn of a new beginning. It is a picture of dashed dreams when marriage should be a symbol of hope.
If you would like to get involved with the campaign, join in with any of the initiatives below:
- Educate yourself on 7 things you might not know about child marriage
- Learn about a child bride's story in Yemen here
- Raise awareness on social media by sharing UNFPA's campaign materials
- Donate towards UNFPA's work here