Partnership forged to fight child marriage

Kathmandu, June 20

Plan International has announced a new partnership with the South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation in Law.

The partnership – made official through a signing ceremony today in Kathmandu, Nepal – will strengthen efforts between the legal community in South Asia and civil society organisations to accelerate harmonisation and reform of the regional instruments and national laws, policies and regulatory frameworks that guide the promotion, protection and realisation of children’s rights, read a joint press release issued by Plan International and SAARCLAW.

With a particular emphasis on girls and women equity and equality, the partnership will support advocacy at all levels on the advancement of legal systems that prevent and eliminate harmful practices that impact the lives of millions of children in South Asia, including child, early and forced marriage.

“We believe in the value of powerful partnership to tackle the root causes of poverty and discrimination that deny millions of children their human rights. By working with SAARCLAW, we are jointly accelerating efforts to ensure legal and policy changes to guarantee children in South Asia a life driven by equality, justice and dignity,” said Sven Coppens, Country Director for Plan International in Nepal.

“Women and children’s rights are human rights. This is stated clearly in the constitutions of South Asian countries as fundamental rights and within international instruments such as the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women, which was ratified by all SAARC countries,” said Prof Purna Man Shakya, vice-president of SAARCLAW.

South Asia has the highest incidence of child marriage in the world, with approximately one in two girls married before their 18th birthday. While the partnership between Plan International and SAARCLAW will address child rights in all its forms, the initial priority will focus on national laws regulating child marriage related aspects.