Rachel Clement, co-chair of Girls Not Brides USA
In my previous post I discussed the topic of child marriages and went into detail about some of the impacts that they have on young girls. Child marriages happen all over the world and the fight to end them does as well. The next step in my research and this project is doing an agent of change related to child marriages. To further my understanding of what is already being done to help stop child marriages I decided to interview someone that have a hand in doing so. I interviewed Rachel Clement, a co-chair for Girls Not Brides USA.
The first questions that I asked her were about her job as a co-chair and why she became one. In terms of how she got the job, Ms.Clement was already working with the Girls Not Brides organization but was recommended for the job when her boss stepped down. She then went into detail about how she sees child marriages as the biggest problem that young girls have to face around the world. She also talked about the health problems that girls involved in child marriages face. Like I talked about briefly in my previous post, it’s very likely that those girls will end up pregnant. Not only will their bodies suffer from complications but their children will also face health issues. Their children have to deal with things like stunting growth and wasting before they even turn 5. This can result in them dying at a very young age or growing up with health complications. One point that Ms.Clement talked about in the interview was the financial aspect of child marriages.This practice that results in children facing stunting, malnutrition or death, costs the global economy between $56 and $106 billion dollars. Child marriages not only takes a toll on the children involved but also the global economy. I also wanted to learn more about what she does as a co-chair for Girls Not Brides USA. As someone who does coalition work, her job is to build a consensus about the actions that they should take in relation to child marriages. In addition to what she has done as a co-chair I asked about her goals for 2018. Ms.Clement talked about how she wants to work more with Congress and with non-profit organizations and incorporating youth in her work with the IRCW.
My last question for her was about how young people, like me, can get involved in this issue. Ms.Clement encouraged me to continue reading and learning about child marriages and also get involved with local politics. Pennsylvania is considering passing a law that raises the current legal age of marriage from 16 to 18. She also talked about possibly contacting congresspeople in Pennsylvania and voicing my opinions about different laws that affect Pennsylvanians. From her answers I got some ideas about what I could do for my agent of change. I have a couple of options ranging from donating to talking and getting involved with the congresspeople in Pennsylvania.To conclude my post I wanted to talk about the progress that has been made with reducing child marriages, in the United States. Some examples of laws that have been passed are, in New Jersey a bill was passed that banned all marriages before the age of 18. Texas passed a bill that eliminated most child marriages except for those between emancipated minors. These are just some of the bills that have been passed to help end child marriages in the United States. There’s still work that needs to be done but progress is being made.