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Despite laws 11% of women in Vietnam are married before legal age

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early mariage_680The first national survey on social-economic conditions of 53 ethnic minority groups conducted by the Committee on Ethnic Minority Affairs (CEMA) and the General Statistics Office in 2015 revealed that the average rate of child marriage among the 53 ethnic minority groups was as high as 26.6%, with some ethnic minority communities showing very high rates of early and child marriage ranging from 50 to 70%.
Photo: UNICEF Viet Nam\2016\Truong Viet Hung

Ha Noi, June 29, 2017 – Globally, 15 million girls marry every year before they reach there eigtheenth birthday. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development set Target 5.3 to eliminate all harmful practices including child, early and forced marriage by 2030. In Viet Nam, despite the Law on Marriage and Family setting the minimum legal age for marriage at 18 for women and 20 for men, 11% of women aged 20-49 years were married or in union before the age of 18. Moreover, the continuing disparities across regions and ethnic groups mean that communities that are left behind socio-economic development and progress towards gender equality struggle with higher prevalence of child marriage. The first national survey on social-economic conditions of 53 ethnic minority groups conducted by the Committee on Ethnic Minority Affairs (CEMA) and the General Statistics Office in 2015 revealed that the average rate of child marriage among the 53 ethnic minority groups was as high as 26.6%, with some ethnic minority communities showing very high rates of early and child marriage ranging from 50 to 70%.

Today, more than 100 experts from international organizations, governmental agencies, representing cental and 30 pronvinces of the country, local organizations and academia have gathered in Ha Noi to discuss national and international experiences, effective strategies and interventions, and policy recommendations for Viet Nam to address child and early marriage.

To ensure Viet Nam can develop a holistic and comprehensive approach to end child marriage, the National Conference on Child and Early Marriage discussed lessons learned on key factors and barriers that impede effective interventions; and identified opportunities for multi-stakeholder collaboration and integration of child and early marriage interventions into development and socio-economic programmes in Viet Nam, particularly in ethnic minority regions.

At today's conference, the Chair of the ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC) joined the confernce to highlight Viet Nam's commitments under the ASEAN Declaration On The Elimination Of Violence Against Women And Elimination Of Violence Against Children, which includes the elimination of child marriage, as well as share best practices from the ASEAN region.

The conference, jointly organized by the Committee on Ethnic Minority Affairs (CEMA) and UN Women, UNICEF, UNFPA, non-governmental organizations (World Vision, Plan International, ChildFund, iSEE) with support of Irish Aid and other funds, will also identify support needed to make Viet Nam's commitments a reality.

Opening the event, Mr. Vice Minister, Vice Chairman of CEMA stressed that"early marriage has constrained girls' opportunities for education, trainings as well as decent work in the future. Early marriage also leads to early pregnancy while the body hasn't reached full growth, significantly affecting girls' psychological and physical development. Early marriage also contributes to the risk of domestic violence and other forms of gender based violence." Further, he added that "early marriage violates child rights. Overall, early marriage directly affects socio-economic development issues, making a vicious cycle of poverty among ethnic minority groups. This presents also a root cause degrading quality of human resources and sustainable development among ethnic minority areas."

Speaking at the Conference on behalf of the UN agencies supporting the conference, Ms. Shoko Ishikawa, UN Women Country Representative in Viet Nam said "the key to breaking the cycle of child and early marriage lies with empowering and investing in women and girls. Every girl and woman at risk of or affected by child and early marriage must have equal access to quality services such as education and training, legal and health counselling, including for sexual and reproductive health, shelter and other social services. This requires all government bodies to ensure that their planning, budgeting, decision-making, policy making, and monitoring reflect the needs of girls and boys, and that investments in girls' empowerment are prioritized in all areas and all sectors."

Adding to the comments above, WVV's National Director Tran Thu Huyen on behalf of the non-governmental organizations supporting the conference emphasized the role of children in finding solutions for this issue. "It's very important to listen to children's perspectives on the root causes of child marriage and involve and empower them to participate in finding solutions to prevent and end child marriage, especially in ethnic minority groups," she said.

The participants agreed that recommendations of the conference on policy reform and future research to end child and early marriage in Viet Nam will be summarized and introduced to relevant national ministries, local agencies and oganizations for actions of their sectors as well as provinces in entire countries.

pdfClick here to view the full version of the joint press release

docxClick here to download the key recommendations from the Conference on Child and Early Marriage

-Ends-

For further information, please contact:

  • Hoang Bich Thao, Communications Officer, UN Women Viet Nam, Tel: +84 4 3850 0376; Mob: 012 0514 3996, Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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