Aiming for Zero Child Marriage

Friday 29 December 2017

Fifty four years ago in 1963, Nepal made child marriage illegal and the reality is that almost 50 percent of women continue to be married before they are 18 years old. Questions therefore then emerge “what does the ban mean and political commitment of the state”.

The local government in Kapilvastu and Pyuthan and the community are contributing their part in delisting Nepal from falling under the ten worst countries where child marriages are prevalent.

That demonstration could not have been at a momentous day than 20th November, universal children’s day, when three local governing units, ward numbers 4, 5 and 9 within the Buddhabhumi municipality declared that they are no child marriages in their community. A week later, Krishna Nagar Municipality’s ward numbers 5, 8 and 9 declared child marriage free. So far, seven wards in Kapilvastu have made this declaration.

Declaring the three units as free of child marriage, the Mayor of the Municipality set the end of 2018 as deadline to bring to zero the prevalence of child marriages in the municipality working with communities, children and Save the Children. In Kapilvastu district, a baseline survey conducted in 2012 estimated the child marriage rate at 47 % which is expected to be 20% by end of 2017.

On December 16, Mallarani Rural Municipality's ward number three was declared as child marriage free, making it the first ward to do so in Pyuthan district. In 2014, a survey conducted by District Child Welfare board showed that the municipality had 60% child marriage which had now come down to 4 % (children under the age of 18). Four days later, ward number five of Swargadwari Municipality followed suit.

On November 24th 2015, Save the Children, and partner NGO Kalika Development Center in coordination with District Child Welfare Board launched a campaign against child marriage in the district at a press meet. Led by the of Government authorities, the campaign has been actively working on ground with participation of Women and Child Office, District Education Office, District Health Office, and police, journalists, NGOs, political parties, business communities, child protection committees, female community health volunteers, mothers' group, youth, and children through the child clubs.

Under the new political and governance structure, Save the Children will be working with local and provincial governments to protect all children from early marriage and make prevalence stand at zero to support the central government’s “National Strategy on ending child marriage by 2030” rolled out this year.