Plan International

 {Photo credit: Sarah Lindsay/MSH.}Youth delegates at the World Conference on Youth in Hambantota, Sri Lanka.Photo credit: Sarah Lindsay/MSH.

Good governance is like a large elephant, Ahmed Adamu, Chairperson of the Commonwealth Youth Council, said. One person can touch the trunk, one the stomach, and one the tail, and they have had very different experiences with the elephant. Around the world, everyone has different experiences and different perceptions of good governance. With this anecdote, Adamu, a speaker at the plenary, “Achieving Good Governance and Accountability” at the 2014 World Conference on Youth, captures the challenges of defining good governance often cited in more academic terms. Though the concept of good governance is up for interpretation, there is consensus across countries, generations, and sectors that it is sorely needed. According to a consultation by Restless Development with young people in 12 countries , overall, governance is their most important issue that should be addressed in the post-2015 dialogue. And while good governance might be their most pressing concern, according to Subinay Nandy, Sri Lanka’s Resident Coordinator to the United Nations, it is young people themselves who are the most important tool international agencies can use to guarantee good governance.

While global health and policy efforts to protect young girls from early or forced marriage are increasing, millions of girls are forced into early marriage every year. Pictured: four Senegalese girls. {Photo credit: S. Galdos/MSH.}Photo credit: S. Galdos/MSH.

If you think that child marriage is not an issue in the twenty-first century, think again.  In developing countries, 82 million girls who are now ages 10 to 17 will be married before their 18th birthday. Over the past decade, 58 million girls in developing countries -- one in three -- have been married under the age of 18; 15 million -- one in nine -- were married by age 15.

These girls are often married against their will, despite national laws that prohibit marriage until the age of 18, and numerous international declarations, conventions, and global conferences that “guarantee” the rights of girls, like the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Senate Passes Preventing Child Marriage Act

Child marriage is increasingly becoming a hot topic within the realm of global health -- and influencing U.S. domestic and global policy.

The International Protecting Girls by Preventing Child Marriage Act (S. 414) -- reintroduced in the U.S. Congress in February 2011 --- passed on the Senate floor by way of voice vote on May 24, 2012. (The bill also passed the Senate unanimously in December 2010.)

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