Activists target scourge of child marriage
Publish date: 27 November 2023
Issue Number: 1055
Diary: IBA Legalbrief Africa
Category: Human rights
Three of the world's most influential women – Michelle Obama, Amal Clooney and Melinda French Gates – plan to end child marriage within a generation. They announced a collaboration between their foundations to combat the problem last year and addressed their progress following their trip to Malawi and SA. At the current rate of progress, the UN has warned it will not be eradicated for 300 years. But Obama told the BBC ‘it is an issue that can be solved tomorrow’. Obama's education-focused organisation, Girls Opportunity Alliance, has identified that girls around the world were leaving school due to pregnancy and teenage marriage. Clooney is working to make sure girls in rural communities were aware of their rights, and many of Gates' projects have focussed on improving healthcare – including treatment for girls who experience complications after giving birth at a young age. All are passionate about defending the rights of women and girls, so a coalition seemed like a natural fit. ‘It's been a really lovely and very organic partnership, and friendship, between the three of us,’ international human rights lawyer Clooney said. According to Unicef, 650m girls and women are alive today who married under the age of 18. South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa have the highest rates globally, but this is not just an issue in the global south. Five states in the US have no minimum age of marriage as long as parents consent.