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FORUM: Economic and Social CouncilQUESTION OF: Eradicating child marriagesSUBMITTED BY: The Republic of CameroonTHE ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COUNCIL,Reaffirming UN resolutions 69/156 of 18 December 2014, 70/138 of 17 December 2015, and 69/147 of 18 December 2014 on child, early and forced marriages (CEFM), and the intensification of efforts to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls,Noting with concern that poverty and a lack of access to education are among the root causes of CEFM, that CEFM remains most common in rural areas, particularly those with a lack of infrastructure, and among the poorest communities, and recognizing that the alleviation of extreme poverty must remain a high priority for the international community not only in order to eradicate CEFM, but also to promote the equality and empowerment of women and girls in a wider context,Recognising the significance of the work of grassroots womens’ and girls’ rights organisations in providing local knowledge and insight, and the importance of these organisations in the process of eradicating CEFM, in particular in rural communities or in areas where social norms, and strong religious and cultural customs influence attitudes towards CEFM,Noting with concern that deep-rooted gender inequalities, harmful religious and cultural customs, and discriminatory norms are among the root causes of CEFM, and act as obstacles to the full enjoyment of human rights and the empowerment by women and girls,Recognizing that CEFM deprives women and girls of their autonomy and right to participate in decisions that affect them, and thus that CEFM places girls at greater risk of facing various forms of discrimination and violence throughout their lives, Emphasising that eradicating CEFM and the empowerment of women and girls are critical factors in working to break to cycle of gender inequality and discrimination, violence, and poverty, and are crucial in order for international development to accelerate, whilst also becoming more inclusive,Recognizing that raising awareness of the harmful consequences of CEFM, including among men and boys, can contribute to promoting social norms that support efforts to eradicate CEFM, Recognizing also that the process of eradicating CEFM must be inclusive, as men and boys can act as strategic partners and allies, whose active engagement in the issue can contribute to transforming discriminatory social norms that perpetuate CEFM,1. Requests States to internationally collaborate in order to reach an agreement on a ‘Universal Marriageable Age’, to be agreed and legitimised through:A series of conventions, to determine that ageA formal international agreed treaty; 2. Further requests States to enforce and uphold the aforementioned ‘Universal Marriageable Age’ through measures including, but not limited to:Outlawing marriage of any person below the agreed upon universal marriageable ageLaunching global campaigns to increase the percentage of the population with proper identification documentsImplementing and enforcing procedures to verify the age of a citizen before they are married;3. Stresses the importance of the strengthening of relationships between religious and civic leaders, though open discussions about possible collaboration to most effectively protect citizens from CEFM;4. Encourages States to promote local collaboration between religious, educational, and health institutions aligned around a common aim of preventing CEFM; 5. Calls upon States to generate a universal syllabus on marriage, family and sexual relations, to be agreed upon by a collaboration between relevant international non-governmental organisations concerned with girls’ and women’s rights, and relevant international organisations concerned with health and education, to be aimed at:Primary and secondary school-aged children, as a mandatory part of their formal educationCitizens without formal education or beyond school age, taught in the form of non-mandatory drop-in sessions;6. Further calls upon States to include on the aforementioned ‘Universal Syllabus on Marriage, Family, and Sexual Relations’:Age appropriate and scientifically accurate informationSexual and reproductive healthHuman rights and genderPhysical, psychological, and pubertal development; 7. Suggests increased collaboration between States and the Global Partnership for Education, in order to enhance domestic financing for girls’ education and/or global donor support for girls’ education;8. Strongly encourages States to take steps towards enhancing girls’ access to primary and secondary education, through measures including, but not limited to:Creating locally-based ‘School Attendance Support Systems’ in order to support schools, teachers, the community, and families in getting girls to attend school, through:Requiring States to conduct a national census, in which population is measured and recorded for each local regionRequiring States to provide schools with a record of all school age children in their areaRequiring States to employ members of the local community as ‘community school attendance officers’, to follow up with individual cases of girls’ school absenteeismImplementing literacy and catch-up programmes for those who have left school early, and/or have not received a formal education for reasons of childbearing or entering into early marriagesProviding opportunities for young girls and women to develop the skills needed to allow them to translate educational achievements into employment opportunities, through:Access to technical and vocational educationTraining and life skills education; 9. Urges that States promote the enhancement of economic opportunities for women and girls, by ensuring the rights of women and girls to:Inheritance of property and assetsAccess to social protectionFinancial services and support;10. Calls for States to move towards beginning a period of transition in which the dowry system is phased out, through measures including but not limited to:Providing small financial incentives for economically struggling families with girls who are at an age where they are most vulnerable to CEFM, in order to discourage families’ exchange of underage girls for a dowry as a financial ‘last resort’Following this period of transition with the ultimate outlawing of the practice of dowry; 11. Strongly urges States to implement systems of transportation in rural areas in which attendance rates are significantly lower due to geographical challenges and/or safety risks on route, including but not limited to:School bus systemsIntroducing alternative forms transport such as the ‘Walking Bus’ system, in which groups of schoolchildren are chaperoned to and from school by appointed adults on a fixed route, through:Employing members of the local community to act as chaperonesCollaboration between States and local and international non-governmental organisations to produce and circulate resources about how to safely implement a ‘Walking Bus’ system on the local level; 12. Advocates that States ensure that the work of all aforementioned international organisations and institutions is put into practice, either entirely or in part, by grassroots organisations working towards eradicating CEFM on the local level; 13. Hopes to remain actively seized in the matter.

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