US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton visited The Elders’ founder Nelson Mandela in his home village of Qunu yesterday.
She took the opportunity to discuss the harmful practice of child marriage with Graça Machel, member of The Elders and wife of Nelson Mandela. They spoke about The Elders’ efforts to highlight this neglected issue, and particularly the work of the Elders-initiated Girls Not Brides partnership, which brings together over 170 grassroots, national and global organisations from 32 countries working to end child marriage around the world.
At a press conference later that day, Secretary Clinton affirmed the US’ commitment to addressing child marriage:
“I want to say a brief word about an issue that doesn’t get nearly enough attention in the world, and that’s child marriage. This is an issue that the Elders have taken on. And it’s good that they have, because an estimated one in three girls in the developing world are married before the age of 18. That means they are less likely to get an education, more likely to encounter life-threatening health problems, which shortchanges and shortcuts them and sometimes their lives, and robs their communities and their countries of their skills and talents.
“The United States will intensify our diplomacy and development work to end child marriage, and it’s a personal commitment of mine as well as a great value that South Africa, the United States, and so many people around the world share.”