Former world leaders warn of child marriage risk girls face due to pandemic -

Former world leaders warn of child marriage risk girls face due to pandemic

  • Published on
    August 19, 2020
  • News Source Image
  • Category:
    COVID-19, Forced Marriage
Hero Banner

 The ongoing coronavirus pandemic risks creating a “COVID generation” of children lost to forced marriage and other forms of modern slavery, a group of former world leaders have warned.

In a letter addressed to current world leaders, including those of G20 states and of the World Bank, ex-leaders, economists, and education experts urged immediate action to prevent this outcome.

Former U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, former British prime minister Tony Blair, and former New Zealand prime minster Helen Clark were among the letter’s 275 signatories.

Lockdowns enforced to prevent the spread of the coronavirus have forced millions of children out of school and often into forced marriage, forced labor, and other forms of modern slavery.

While their primary function is education, schools play a vital role in protecting children from these crimes, both directly—by taking them out of harm’s way—and indirectly, by providing free meals and alleviating hunger and economic stress for their families.

An estimated 30 million children may never return to school, despite lockdowns being lifted.

Reuters reports:

“For these, the world’s least advantaged children, education is often the only escape from poverty – a route that is in danger of closing,” said the letter addressed to G20 heads, governments, the World Bank, IMF and development banks. 

“Many … are adolescent girls for whom being in school is the best defence against forced marriage and the best hope for a life of expanded opportunity.”

According to the letter, low and middle-income countries face $100-150 billion in educational spending cuts.

To prevent these shortfalls impacting children, current world leaders must urgently back an emergency plan that protects frontline national education budgets, as well as debt relief and multilateral aid.

The other moves backed by the signatories include support for online learning, cash assistance for low-income families, and increased social distancing capabilities for schools.

The former leaders’ letter is the latest in a series of dire warnings about the growing threat child marriage poses around the world.

In June, the head of the United Nations’ reproductive health agency (UNFPA) warned millions more girls risk child marriage due to the pandemic; just this month, Refugees International released a report detailing the risk refugee women and girls face in particular.

Over 90,000 people have taken Freedom United’s pledge calling on world leaders to take immediate action to end forced marriage and to express support for Sustainable Development Goal 5.3, which seeks to end this form of modern slavery.

Join the call on world governments today.


Freedom United is interested in hearing from our community and welcomes relevant, informed comments, advice, and insights that advance the conversation around our campaigns and advocacy. We value inclusivity and respect within our community. To be approved, your comments should be civil.

stop icon A few things we do not tolerate: comments that promote discrimination, prejudice, racism, or xenophobia, as well as personal attacks or profanity. We screen submissions in order to create a space where the entire Freedom United community feels safe to express and exchange thoughtful opinions.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

This week

Passing of CSDDD blocked – human rights in danger

What could have been a day to celebrate, has turned into a day full of disappointment. On February 28, 2024, the European Council blocked the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CSDDD) after the vote had been postponed due to insufficient support, as reported by Reuters. Thirteen out of the 27 member states voted against the law or abstained from the vote, leaving the ‘qualified majority' of 15 countries short of one. A timeline of

| Wednesday February 28, 2024

Read more