Youth Voices Stand Up Against Child Marriage

Washington, D.C.

July 18, 2011


Alexis Krieg

More than sixteen thousand U.S. teens and supporters today stood together, calling on the Obama Administration’s continued leadership to end child marriage, a global issue that will lead to 100 million child brides in the next decade if current trends continue.

Representatives of this teen movement, working with the United Nations Foundation’s Girl Up campaign, delivered the signatures to the White House, telling the world that they care about the health and future of their peers in developing countries. They join the coalition of individuals and organizations that have been leading the charge to bring an end to the destructive practice of child marriage, including the International Women’s Health Coalition, CARE, The Elders and International Center for Research on Women.

The Girl Up effort is connecting U.S. teens to teen girls around the world to address a global problem that is under-reported and under-represented. Girl Up leverages the power of social media, technology and other communication channels available to teen girls today.

“I’m excited to be part of Girl Up because I don’t think it’s fair that some girls are forced into getting married and bearing children as children themselves,” said Erica Lamberson, local Girl Up Teen Advisor who delivered the signatures to the White House. “I am only one girl, but I know I can make a difference. I’m excited that so many girls across America came together to stand up for the girls who often do not have a voice.”

One in seven girls in developing countries is married before her 15th birthday—often to a man twice her age or older. Decisions about if and when to marry a girl are often made without her input, and sometimes without her knowledge. Child marriage puts girls, some as young as seven or eight, at risk of problems that will impact the rest of their lives. Girls forced to marry early are more likely to drop out of school, face higher risk of health problems and death, and are more vulnerable to violence.

“We applaud these girls for speaking up on this important issue,” said Gina Reiss-Wilchins, Girl Up Director. “The awareness raised by Girl Up supporters, along with the valiant efforts of the entire anti-child marriage community, will help countries, policymakers and international organizations do everything possible to end child marriage.”

There are over 515 million adolescent girls living in developing countries who are at risk of being forced into early marriage. The Girl Up campaign helps American girls channel their energy and compassion to raise awareness and funds for their sisters in developing countries.
Funds raised through Girl Up support United Nations programs that help the hardest-to-reach girls in such countries as Malawi, Ethiopia, Guatemala, and Liberia.
For more information, visit


About Girl Up 
Girl Up, a campaign of the United Nations Foundation, gives American girls the opportunity to channel their energy and compassion to raise awareness and funds for programs of the United Nations that help some of the world’s hardest-to-reach adolescent girls. Through Girl Up’s support, girls have the opportunity to become educated, healthy, safe, counted and positioned to be the next generation of leaders. Campaign supporters are encouraged to give a “High Five” to girls in developing countries by donating $5 or more to provide girls with such basic needs as access to school supplies, clean water, life-saving health services, safety from violence and more. Founding campaign partners include MTV Networks, National Coalition of Girls’ Schools, Women’s National Basketball Association, Ivanka Trump Fine Jewelry, Girls Inc., and 10×10. Go to to learn more.

About the United Nations Foundation
The United Nations Foundation, a public charity was created in 1998 with entrepreneur and philanthropist Ted Turner’s historic $1 billion gift to support UN causes and activities. We build and implement public/private partnerships to address the world’s most pressing problems, and work to broaden support for the UN through advocacy and public outreach. Through our campaigns and partnerships, we connect people, ideas, and resources to help the UN solve global problems. The campaigns we conduct reduce child mortality, empower women and girls, create a new energy future, secure peace and human rights, and promote technology innovation to improve health outcomes. These solutions are helping the UN advance the eight global targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). For more information, visit