The Fight Against Child Marriage

March 21, 2011 • Daily Email Recap

From Glamour.  See

In 2008, when Glamour honored Hillary Clinton as a Woman of the Year, we also recognized a brave Yemeni girl named Nujood Ali-who at age 10 was the first child bride in her country to demand and get a divorce-and her lawyer, Shada Nasser. Secretary Clinton was so impressed with this young honoree that she arranged to meet with Nujood and Shada in New York City the day after the ceremony, and a bond was forged. Last month, the Secretary of State traveled to Yemen, where she caught up with Nujood and Shada; she then wrote this piece for

The Fight Against Child Marriage

by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton

At a recent town hall meeting in Yemen, I reconnected with two of my heroes.

Nujood Ali was just nine years old when she was forced by her own family to marry a man three times her age. As is the case with so many child brides, Nujood had to drop out of school against her will, and she was physically abused. Wanting to find a way out of her misery and suffering, Nujood boarded a bus and found her way to the local courthouse.

Everyone towered above her and paid no attention to her until a judge asked the young girl why she was there. Nujood said she wanted a divorce. Female attorney Shada Nasser took Nujood’s case and others like it. Today, thanks to Shada’s work, girls across Yemen have been given their childhoods back. They are back in school, where they belong.

Child marriages like Nujood’s are tragically common in many societies. In Yemen, for example, among the poorest one-fifth of girls, more than half marry before the age of 18. Of course, every society approaches marriage differently. But all societies also agree on the need to protect children. Which is why we must help young women like Nujood to make the case in their own societies that child marriage is unjust and unwise.

Stopping child marriage is not just a must for moral or human rights reasons-it lays the foundation for so many other things we hope to achieve. Primary education. Improved child and maternal health. Sustainable economic development that includes girls.

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