Addressing the inaugural session of the Girl Summit in Kathmandu, the prince said he recognized that in Nepal, the fight against child marriages is a complex social challenge.

wpid-Prince-Harry-225x300.jpg“But it is one that the Nepal government is tackling and is making progress in its hope of ending child marriage by 2030; it has fallen by 10 percent over the last decade and the practice is now banned by law. Therefore the focus can now turn toward enforcement and education.”

Prince Harry, who has been on a five-day official visit to Nepal since March 19, said that female leadership in Nepal now has set a powerful example with women occupying the roles of president and parliament speaker.

“But the biggest reason for our optimism are the inspiring girls and boys in this room who care so much about changing attitudes towards young women in this country,” he said during the one-day national event organized by the Nepalese Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare with the support of the British government and the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF).

Prince Harry expressed happiness to have the opportunity of opening the Girl Summit alongside Nepal’s President Bidya Devi Bhandari.

“Madam president, you have championed the opportunities for women and girls in Nepal for many years and it is a privilege to share this stage with you today,” he said.

While talking about the prevailing child marriage practices in different parts of the world, the prince said “Whether it’s a girl in Lesotho living with HIV; or a talented young woman in Britain who doesn’t get taken seriously because of where she grew up; or the 14-year-old girl forced out of school so she can get married here in Nepal; we need to acknowledge that so many countries and cultures are failing to protect the opportunities of young women and girls in the way they do for boys.”

He urged all to be open about some of the challenges faced by the young women around the world.

While presenting global data on the situation of girls he said that globally 62 million girls are not getting the education they deserve. “Two thirds of the nearly 800 million people who were never taught to read and write are women. Around the world, more than 700 million women alive today were married as children and nearly 250 million of them were married before the age of 15,” he said.

Prince Harry also mentioned that nearly half of all women in Nepal who are today in their twenties, thirties and forties were married before their 18th birthdays. And a little under half gave birth while still in their teens.

The event was organized to gather momentum around the issue of child marriage and other harmful social norms perpetuating child, early and forced marriage, according to the organizers.

The Nepalese government has stated that the summit was organized to reaffirm its commitment to ensure a future free from child marriage by 2030.

According to statistics, over 1.3 million adolescent Nepalese girls (aged 10-19 years) are at risk of being married as children whereas 24.5 percent of women aged 15-19 years are currently married or in union. Since the first girl summit held in London in 2014, similar national events have already been organized in Bangladesh, Uganda and Ethiopia. Enditem

Source: Xinhua

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