Prince Harry has called for the end of child marriage in the South Asian country of Nepal.
During a five-day tour of the nation, which lies between China and India along the Himalayan Mountains, the Prince addressed the Nepal Girl Summit in the capital Kathmandu. He joined Nepalese President Bidya Devi Bhandari, the first woman to hold the office in the country’s history.
The Prince told the summit that “nearly half of all women who are today in their 20s, 30s and 40s were married before their 18th birthdays” and added that almost half of them gave birth while they were still teenagers.
Girls who marry young tend to stay at home and fail to finish school, he continued. This leads them to “become locked in a cycle of illiteracy, poverty, ill health and, ultimately, powerlessness”.
This cycle can only be broken by education, he claimed, and it was important “to acknowledge that so many countries and cultures are failing to protect the opportunities of young women and girls in the way they do for boys”.
The Prince has added his voice to a growing number who have called for the end of the practice. Earlier this month, the United Nations announced a programme designed to stop child marriage by 2030. The UN estimates that if serious action is not taken, as many as 280 million girls will have become child brides in that time.
Photo of Prince Harry (from 2014) courtesy of UK in Italy via Flickr