Interagency Response to the Practice of Early Marriage was Discussed at the Enlarged Working Meeting

20 December 2018

A working meeting was held on December 19th, 2018. The meeting aimed at supporting the improved multisectoral cooperation for preventing the practice of early/child marriage. The Human Rights Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia presented an analytical report on the cases of early/child marriage and the practice of responding to them. The presentation also highlighted main directions of the Communication for Behavioral Impact (COMBI) on harmful practices of early marriage, and was followed by a discussion on specific steps for improving the coordinated multisectoral response to early/child marriage.

Initiated by the Inter-agency Commission on Gender Equality, Violence against Women and Domestic Violence and the UNFPA Georgia Country Office, a special working group on early/child marriage has been operating for the last 3 years, with a mission to ensure strategic planning of activities to prevent and eliminate harmful practices in the country, and to support coordinated operations of various stakeholders. The group is composed of representatives of respective government structures, members of the UN Gender Theme Group (international and donor organizations), staff of the Public Defender’s Office and the NGOs working on early/child marriages.

The issue of early/child marriage has become a special concern in Georgia in recent years as a result of evidence-based advocacy carried out by the Public Defender’s Office, UN Agencies and civil society organizations. Suggested by the available data and research, cases of early/child marriage in Georgia are not rare, and there are many factors contributing to it, including the gender inequality. According to Lela Bakradze, Assistant Representative of the UNFPA Georgia Country Office, “early marriage brings dire consequences to girls, and in most cases, it results in their social isolation and deprivation of their rights, it also prevents the girls from completing their education and realizing their full potential. Teenage pregnancy and childbirth pose risks to the maternal and fetal health. There is a complex set of causes of early marriage, and therefore, we need to work in many areas to improve the situation at legislative and policy levels, but also to reach out to the communities and adolescents to change their attitudes.”

The meeting was organized by the Inter-agency Commission on Gender Equality, Violence against Women and Domestic Violence, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the UNFPA Georgia Country Office. The meeting was held within the frameworks of the UN Joint Programme for Gender Equality, implemented with the financial support of the Swedish Government.