Population Matters welcomes the Girl Summit held in London on 22nd July 2014.
Simon Ross, chief executive of Population Matters, commented, “This summit is to be welcomed. Campaigning against female genital mutilation and child, early and forced marriage is a key part of the wider fight for gender equality and sexual and reproductive health and rights. In turn, ensuring women are in a position to be able to make their own decisions on when and how many children to have and on other aspects of their lives is key to slowing and reversing the world’s unsustainable population growth.”
The adverse consequences of female genital mutilation have been widely publicized, including by the World Health Organization and the UK National Health Service. Child, early and forced marriage is a violation of free choice and can result in early, frequent and numerous pregnancies, all of which carry significant health risks, particularly where healthcare provision is limited. Complications of pregnancy and childbirth are the leading cause of death in young women aged 15 – 19. Child, early and forced marriage often ends these girls’ participation in education and limits opportunities for employment and personal development.
Both practices are some of the worst aspects of a systematic lack of rights for women and children in some societies. Many of these societies are amongst those with the world’s highest birth rates, holding back their development and contributing to the degradation of their environment and resources.