Kathmandu, March 23
Nepal today hosted its first ever girl summit as part of its commitment to ending child marriage by 2030.
The event was inaugurated by President Bidhya Devi Bhandari by lighting a traditional lamp. Visiting British Prince Harry was also present on the occasion.
The summit brought together youth, community members, activists, religious leaders, government officials, diplomats, UN and civil society representatives to accelerate momentum around the issue of child marriage.
The one-day summit was organised by the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare with technical and financial support from DFID and UNICEF.
A joint press statement issued here today by MoWCSW, UKaid and UNICEF said district level consultations for the event began on March 3 and brought together girls and boys to discuss challenges to eradicating child marriage in Nepal and ways to create conditions for every girl to reach her full potential.
It said nearly half of all women in Nepal between the ages of 20 and 49 years were married before their 18th birthday. Of these, 15 per cent were not even 15-years-old at the time of marriage.
“MoWCSW has rolled out a special Girls Empowerment Programme to end child marriage by 2030,” the statement said, adding, “The Girl Summit, the first event of its kind in Nepal, is part of the government’s commitment to ending child marriage, and represents an important step towards changing gender relations in the country and empowering women and girls to unlock their potential.”
Following the inaugural session, various sessions, activities and performances were held with the aim of raising awareness against child marriage and informing participants about the progress Nepal has made towards ending child marriage.
Discussions were held on the role of policies and provisions and social norms that have deprived girls from equal opportunities.
Panelists came from a range of backgrounds and included both girls and boys, government and NGO representatives and academics from various institutions.
A version of this article appears in print on March 24, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.