Child marriage and social development : Social Development

Child marriage and social development

Where will child marriage fit in the post-2015 development framework?Photograph:

In 2000, the international community agreed upon a set of eight goals, known as the Millennium Development Goals, which aimed to reduce extreme poverty. The goals galvanised efforts to meet the needs of the world’s poorest, driving funding, attention and programming on a range of global issues such as maternal and child health, HIV/AIDS and primary education.

The Millennium Development Goals are set to come to an end in 2015 and discussions are underway as to what a new development framework for the international community might look like, the so-called ‘post-2015 development agenda’.

The unique needs and circumstances of adolescent girls were overlooked in the Millennium Development Goals. There is, however, increasing recognition that their needs and rights must be at the heart of any new development framework. The continued existence of child, early and forced marriage is a symptom of this historic lack of attention to the welfare of adolescent girls.

The road to a new development agenda: the post-2015 process

The process for identifying the shape and priorities for the post-2015 development agenda is made up of two distinct tracks: one is led by the UN Secretary-General; the other is led by UN General Assembly (UNGA) Member States and is focused on devising a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The UN Secretary-General process has involved a wide range of thematic, national and global consultations and meetings. Recommendations made to date by the High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the post-2015 Development Agenda and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, have emphasised the importance of ending child, early and forced marriage in any new goal to empower girls and women and achieve gender equality.

The UNGA process was born out of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, Rio+20, held in 2012, which aimed to develop a global framework to reduce poverty, while preserving the environment. It marked the beginning of global discussions around future SDGs, which aim to address the three dimensions of sustainable development (social, environmental, economic) in a balanced way. There is broad agreement that the SDG and post-2015 processes should be closely linked and ultimately converge in one global development agenda beyond 2015 with sustainable development at its core.

A 30 member Open Working Group (OWG) of the General Assembly was established in January 2013 and is tasked with preparing a proposal on the SDGs. The Open Working Group comprises of 70 Member States from the 5 UN regional groups. Each of the 30 seats of the Open Working Group is shared by 1 to 4 countries from the same UN regional group. It is the responsibility of each grouping to decide how they will be represented during each of the meetings. Representatives of Member States without a seat in the Open Working Group can still participate at sessions.

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