‘Bangladesh should increase 22 times efforts to eliminate child marriage’

The Sustainable Development Goals call for ending child marriage by 2030. To meet that target, Bangladesh must increase its efforts in this regard by 22 times. The victims of child marriage in Bangladesh are the most vulnerable members of the population.

This information came out in the speech of the third phase of Two and Child Marriage (GPECM) in collaboration with UNFPA and UNICEF on Wednesday (June 5).

The third phase of UNFPA-UNICEF’s ‘Global Program to End Child Marriage’ was announced at the event. It calls for increased investment in specific areas to meet the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, as well as strengthening legal policies.

The two and child marriage program will continue till 2030. It will work with the most marginalized people across the country. Its aim will be to increase the resources and capacity needed to end child marriage and to provide assistance in conducting activities to achieve specific goals. The new phase of the program will focus on strengthening anti-child marriage laws and policies, working to reduce child drop-out rates, and changing social norms through more effective government social protection schemes and increased community engagement.

At the opening ceremony of the third phase of GPECMA, the Minister of State for Women and Children Affairs, Simin Hossain (Rimi) said that the root of our commitment to protect the rights of children in Bangladesh is the eradication of child marriage. We reiterate our commitment to work closely and effectively with UNFPA and UNICEF to implement the National Plan of Action to end child marriage. Child marriage cannot be eradicated through legislation alone. For that reason, we will also give importance to working on changing people’s thinking on this matter.

The Prime Minister of Bangladesh has announced that by 2041, the marriage of girls below the age of 18 will be completely stopped. A global program to address child marriage will be used to support governments in this effort. For that purpose, various steps will be taken by combining many sectors and data-based changes.

Christine Blochus, UNFPA country representative in Bangladesh, said that child marriage is currently decreasing at a rate of only 2.1 percent per year in Bangladesh. This means it will take 215 years to eradicate child marriage in Bangladesh. It will be more useful if girls can continue their education in school. Well-planned investments in sexual and reproductive health care and comprehensive sexuality education will empower adolescents to make science-informed decisions about their bodies and lives, empowering them to become agents of change and future leaders.

UNICEF’s OIC Representative in Bangladesh, Stanley Guayavua, said UNICEF is starting this new phase of the program with a renewed commitment to work to empower every child, especially rural girls and young women. In districts where child marriage is high, we will work with other stakeholders to address the root causes.

UNFPA and UNICEF have jointly supported the government in the earlier phases of the programme. So that it has been possible to reach 55 lakh children. During these phases, UNFPA and UNICEF have also assisted the Bangladesh government in uncovering the causes of child marriage in Bangladesh, empowering grassroots organizations, strengthening existing services and working to protect vulnerable girl children.

UNFPA and UNICEF aim to make significant progress in ending child marriage in Bangladesh over the next four years (2024-2027). That is why they will be brought under the joint action plan to provide life skills training and ‘Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE)’ to more than 1.2 lakh adolescent girls (aged 10 to 19 years).

In addition, during this period, the necessary messages about child marriage, adolescent girls’ rights and gender equality will reach more than 61 lakh people through mass media. Besides, through this program, 21 lakh 74 thousand 300 persons and 12 lakh 6 thousand 413 boys and men will be brought under awareness sessions on harmful patriarchy and gender norms.

Launched in 2016, the UNFPA-UNICEF Global Program to End Child Marriage is the largest global initiative to end child marriage. The initiative is supported by the governments of Belgium, Canada, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway and the United Kingdom, as well as the European Union and Zonta International.