Honduras has the 30th highest rate of child marriage in the world, with 34 per cent of young people getting married before the age of 18.
A harmful practice, child marriage forces girls out of education and into a cycle of poverty that increases their risks of experiencing violence, abuse, early pregnancy and poor health. (While boys are also married as children, child marriage affects girls in greater numbers and with consequences which can be devastating for their health and well-being.)
But change is possible. Earlier this month, lawmakers in Honduras’s National Congress voted unanimously to raise the minimum age for marriage from 16 to 18. They removed a loophole in the law which had meant that children under 18 could get married with the permission of their parents.
“I’m very happy and grateful to Plan International for working alongside us girls to bring about this law change,” said Ceily, 11, who got involved in the campaign after her school began working with Plan International Honduras.
Honduran girls supported by Plan International have been campaigning for this loophole to be closed for the past two years!
Honduras’s decision to fully ban child marriage for all young people under the age of 18 is a historic achievement for girls’ rights.
“My dream is this will mean more girls go to university, which will help our country to progress and break the cycle of poverty. Plan International showed me that I can break that cycle,” says Ceily.
Ending child marriage: A growing trend
What made this campaign successful? Harnessing the power and voices of young people.
“This is a historic change which has the potential to benefit the lives of millions of girls – and we couldn’t have done it without the hard work and passion of young people,” said Belinda Portillo, Country Director of Plan International Honduras.
“For the lawmakers to hear from girls with personal experience of child marriage was a vital part of the process. By participating in this campaign, these young people have helped to put an end to a practice which is a violation of girls’ human rights and robs girls of their childhood.”
When young people rally together to make change happen, they make history. Recently, we’ve seen this happen in Malawi and Dominican Republic. Both countries have taken immense steps to end child marriage, which is a huge victory for girls’ rights!
Keeping the momentum going
Help us continue our work in empowering girls to advocate for their rights and make change happen in their communities and countries.