At the end of this year, Girls Not Brides’ strategy for 2014-2016 will come to an end. Given how much the Partnership has grown during the lifespan of the current strategy, and the progress we have seen in efforts to end child marriage – often as a result of our collective action – this is the perfect opportunity to refine and refresh our priorities.
The members of Girls Not Brides are at the heart of developing the new strategy. They understand the local contexts in which child marriage happens and what it will take to end it. That is why we sought to involve all members in a structured and inclusive way in the strategy development process. We also sought expert advice from donors, governments, researchers and thought-leaders who all have a stake in achieving our vision: a world without child marriage.
Earlier this year, we had a fantastic response to our first round of consultation. Comments ranged from how we work together as a Partnership, and what opportunities and challenges we should consider in defining our future direction, to possible areas of focus over the next four years.
We summarised it all in a discussion paper with help from the Member Reference Group – a small, diverse group of members who are advising the secretariat throughout the development of the strategy. In July we circulated this discussion paper and opened another round of consultation.
Once again, we have been stunned by the tremendous response!
We also invited Girls Not Brides members to share their thoughts and strategic ideas in virtual focus group discussions. We received such a huge response that we had to double the number of focus groups in order to accommodate demand!
- So far, more than 200 individuals from over 55 countries have shared their feedback.
- Of these, over 150 were Girls Not Brides.
- Over 50% of respondents were based in Sub-Saharan Africa, and over 20% were based in South Asia.
- We were pleased to see that a third of respondents were young people.
- 65% of respondents said that they work at the national level, and 68% said that they work at the community level.
- Non-members also took part, including government representatives, coalitions, individual advocates, researchers, representatives from international organisations, and civil society organisations who are not (yet!) members for Girls Not Brides.
Finally, we also had one-on-one conversations with a variety of people ranging from private foundations, government representatives from countries where child marriage rates are high, the United Nations, global partnerships, and international organisations.
Throughout the rest of August and September we will be analysing everything we have heard in order to prepare a ‘zero draft’ of Girls Not Brides’ strategy for 2017-2020. In October/November there will be a final opportunity for you to give us your feedback on that draft.
We are so grateful to everyone who has taken part in this process so far, not only for your time but for sharing your wisdom with us. We are excited to continue on this journey together, and take our global partnership to end child marriage to the next level.
In the time it has taken to read this article 31 girls under the age of 18 have been married
Each year, 12 million girls are married before the age of 18
That is 23 girls every minute
Nearly 1 every 3 seconds
Girls Not Brides
As Deputy Executive Director, Heather is responsible for ensuring that Girls Not Brides delivers on its strategy and advances our collective efforts to end child marriage. She leads on ensuring that partner engagement translates to substantive progress toward ending child marriage at the global, regional and national levels, and on the development of staff."