Establishing a minimum age for marriage

Governments are urged to adopt legislative measures fixing a minimum age for marriage for boys and girls. As recommended by the World Health Organization, the minimum age for girls should be 18 years. Such legislative measures should be reinforced with necessary mechanisms for its implementation. Registration of births and deaths, marriages and divorces should be made compulsory.

Health issues relating to sex and family life education should be included in the school curricula to promote responsible and harmonious parenthood and to create awareness among young people about the harmful effects of early marriage, as well as the need for education about sexually transmitted diseases, especially AIDS. The media should be mobilized to raise public awareness on the consequences of child marriage and other such practices and the need to combat them. Government and women's activist groups could monitor the role of the mass media in this regard. All governments should adopt and work towards "safe motherhood" initiatives.

Effective training programmes should be ensured for traditional birth attendants and paramedical personnel to equip them with the necessary skills and knowledge, including concerning the effects of harmful traditional practices, to provide care and services during the ante-natal, child delivery and post-natal periods, especially for rural mothers.

Governments should promote male contraception, as well as female contraception. To discourage the early marriage of girls, the government should make provision to increase vocational training, retraining and apprenticeship programmes for young women to empower them economically. A certain percentage of the places in existing training institutions should be reserved for women and girls. Governments should recognize and promote the reproductive rights of women, including their right to decide on the number and spacing of their children.

Considering that non-governmental organizations have an effective role in urging governments to enhance women's health status and in keeping the international organizations informed about the trends relating to traditional practices affecting the health of women and children, they should continue to report on the progress made and obstacles encountered in this area.

Type Classification:
D: Detailed strategies