Advocates are up in arms after the 56th session of the United Nations’ Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) came to a close in New York last week without addressing certain critical issues, including forced and early marriage, that profoundly impact millions of women and girls worldwide.  According to RH Reality Check:

This year marked the first time in history that the CSW did not produce ‘Agreed Conclusions’… The most contentious issues, not surprisingly, were related to sexual and reproductive health care, including…early and forced marriage.

Negotiations among member states reportedly broke down due to disagreements over reproductive health and rights.  The Independent observed:

The issues not addressed by CSW negotiators – such as early and forced marriage, female genital mutilation, gender-based violence and basic health care, including reproductive health – are vital to women’s survival and well-being.  They also powerfully affect women’s ability to make critical decisions affecting their lives and to participate in their communities.  These issues are closely intertwined.  A child bride has a much higher chance of becoming pregnant during adolescence and – especially where health services are lacking – of dying in child birth.  Failing to promote and implement women’s human rights contributes to women suffering poor health and even unnecessary deaths and traps women and girls (and the children they bear) in poverty.

RH Reality Check characterized participating diplomats as “completely disconnected from their countries’ realities” and The Independent urged, “We must all do better next time. The world’s poorest girls cannot afford to wait.”