MAKE CHANGE: On Human Rights Day Help Pass the Child Marriage Act

All over the world December 10 celebrates Human Rights Day in ode to the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) at the Palais de Chaillot in Paris in 1948. Yet, even as the achievement of basic human rights for all has yet to be reached, advocates and organizations work toward policies that move humanity closer to that goal. Recently, the U.S. Senate passed the Child Marriage Act which according to the organization CARE, "ensures that child marriage is recognized as a human rights violation, develops a comprehensive strategy to prevent child marriage and empower young girls, integrates child marriage prevention approaches throughout U.S. foreign assistance programs and scales-up proven approaches and programs to end the practice."

As per Forbes blog, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was a surprise guest recently at the TEDWomen Conference in Washington, D.C. where she shared, "Women’s and girl’s rights are a prosperity issue and a peace issue. That is why we need to integrate women’s issues into discussions at the highest level. Not just because I have a personal commitment or President Obama does, but because it is in the vital interests of the U.S."

However, even though the legislation passed in the Senate, now the goal is to pass it through the House of Representatives. Why so important?

The Girl Effect cites there are 600 million adolescent girls in the developing world. As their brilliant video illustrates, when an adolescent girl is "educated through secondary school, she’ll bring 25% more income into her family. When she’s healthy, her community’s health will improve as maternal mortality and child malnutrition drop, and HIV rates decline. She will drive 70% of agricultural production. She is an unrealized economic force, accelerating growth and progress in every sector."

Yet, if she is married at a young age her chances fade fast. According to CARE's action page, "Child brides have a diminished chance of completing their education, resulting in limited opportunities and income-earning potential later in life. These girls also are twice as likely to be beaten or threatened with violence by their husbands compared to girls who marry later in life. In addition, child marriage is usually accompanied by early child bearing, placing young girls at risk for complications during and after childbirth."

Take action here.

Photo credit: The Girl Effect