Judith Bruce is a Population Council senior associate and policy analyst. Annabel Erulkar is a senior associate and director of the Council's Ethiopia office.
Each year, at least 14 million girls around the world are married by age 18—that is, as children. After many years of hard work by researchers and advocates, child marriage is now firmly embedded in the rhetoric of human rights. What we need now is a focused business plan that will ensure successful results.
Despite girls being highlighted far and wide in conferences and communications, the poorest girls in the poorest communities are not yet receiving the necessary on-the-ground resources to avoid forced sex inside and outside of marriage. Child marriage not only violates their human rights and endangers their health, but often also anchors them in poverty.
What can we do to move from well-meaning dialogue and diffuse efforts to actions that actually make a difference?