Join the Effort to End Child Marriage

Article Date

06 September 2012

Article Author

By ICRW Communications Staff

Media Contact

Anne McPherson

Vice President, Global Communications email [email protected]

For the past two decades, the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) has been a leader in using research and advocacy to show that child marriage is a grave human rights violation, as well as an obstacle to many development goals. Now, ICRW is focused on how to prevent – and ultimately end – this harmful traditional practice. We urge you to join us in this effort as we approach Oct. 11, which the United Nations has designated as the first International Day of the Girl

As co-chair of Girls Not Brides: U.S. Partnership to End Child Marriage, ICRW and other global organizations are calling on President Obama to increase political and financial investment in girls to end child marriage as well as to support girls who already are married. 

Congress demonstrated its bipartisan commitment to address the issue when, in May, U.S. senators for the second time in two years endorsed the International Protecting Girls by Preventing Child Marriage Act. The bill was then introduced in July in the House of Representatives. The legislation describes child marriage as a human rights violation and recommends that eliminating it should be a U.S. foreign policy goal. It also requires the U.S. government to design an integrated approach to reduce, and ultimately end the practice. 

The same bill passed the Senate in December 2010, but its final passage was blocked in the House. Legislators in the House are not expected to take up the vote this time around, so ICRW and other organizations worldwide are now turning to the Obama administration, calling for more investment to reach girls and their communities through child marriage prevention and married adolescent programs. 

You, too, can join this important effort. In honor of the first International Day of the Girl, you can write a personal letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asking her to prioritize child marriage. Handwritten letters are one of the most effective ways to influence government officials and make an impact. Send your letter to the Girl Up offices by Sept. 24, and it – along with other letters from across the country – will be delivered to Sec. Clinton before International Day of the Girl Child. 

Girl Up is a campaign of the United Nations Foundation and member of the Girls Not Brides partnership. 

Here are a few tips for writing to Sec. Clinton: 

  • Introduce yourself. List your “credentials” (name, address) and be sure to mention by you feel strongly about helping adolescent girls around the world.
  • Personalize it. Sending a personalized letter will generate more attention than a template letter. And be creative – officials want to hear your stories, not just facts and figures.
  • Be concise. Letters should be no longer than one page.
  • Ask for something. Be sure your letter clearly asks Sec. Clinton for political and financial support to end child marriage. For emphasis, restate this “ask” at the end of the letter.
  • Be polite. Manners go a long way and the letters should be passionate, but not pushy. Remember to thank Sec. Clinton for her leadership on women and girls’ issues.

Here is a sample letter template.

All letters must be posted to the Girl Up offices by Sept. 24. Send your letters to:

Girl Up c/o Julie Willig
 1800 Massachusetts Ave.
Suite 400
Washington, D.C. 20036