Federal Minister for Human Rights Mian Riaz Hussain Pirzada here on Friday said women empowerment was the top priority of the government. He was addressing a Consultation and Analysis session arranged by National Commission on the Rights of Child on the issue of Child Marriages in Pakistan. Representatives from the UN, members of civil society and other dignitaries also participated in the session. In his address, the minister lauded the efforts of Chairperson NCRC, Afshan Tahseen and her team for launching policy brief and KAP (Knowledge, Attitude and Practices) Survey to suggest a way forward to address the issue of early marriages in Pakistan. He said that prevention and elimination of child marriage was important for economic and social uplift of the country. He stated that in our society, poverty and limited educational opportunities for children were the main reasons for marriage at a young age that was causing adverse effects on the physical and mental health of child brides. Early marriage also deprived girls of their right to education and became a reason behind the intergenerational transfer of poverty, he added. The minister further said that child marriages made our society unsafe especially for girls and more incidents of domestic violence, social discrimination and abuse were reported in the areas with high ratio of early marriages. He mentioned that under article 25 A of the constitution of Pakistan, it was the state responsibility to provide free and compulsory education to all children up to the age of 16 years. “There is a need to make further efforts by all provincial and federal governments to ensure that educational laws are properly applied as this is the only way forward that will help a great deal to reduce the number of child marriages in Pakistan, ” he added. While stating the factors contribute towards national development, the minister said that enabling girls to improve their education, health and employment opportunities and ending poverty should be a top priority for all of us to gain the sustainable social and economic development. He expressed that in the past, this social issue was not taken seriously even this topic was considered difficult to bring under discussion but now situation has been entirely changed due the sincere efforts of some institutions and leaders. At the end, the minister reiterated that his ministry would fully contribute and play its role to adapt the recommendations of the session as a regular law to stop the child marriages in the country.