On Tuesday 8 March 2022, we join with women activists and changemakers around the world to celebrate International Women’s Day (IWD); an annual marker to celebrate progress made for women’s rights around the world.
12 million girls are married each year. Child marriage happens all over the world, and is an issue that crosses cultures, countries, religions and ethnicities. The negative effects of child marriage , such as poorer health, reduced access to education, and fewer economic opportunities, affect girls’ and women’s rights long term. If we are to achieve a gender-equal future for all girls, we must collectively address the root causes of child marriage, and end it together.
The Girls Not Brides flagship Power to Girls campaign calls on accelerated efforts to end child marriage, and a future where empowered girls can become empowered women.
For IWD this year, we are celebrating six female activists working towards a gender-equal world for all girls, championing girls’ rights, and calling for urgent action on child marriage through their support of the Power to Girls global campaign.
Afia - Youth Activist, Athena Network, Zambia
“We need to create more opportunities for meaningful youth participation of adolescent girls and young women.”
Afia is a passionate youth advocate for girls and women in communities across Zambia. She spends her time as a community development practitioner and youth advocate working for and with young people to amplify their voices on sexual and reproductive health and rights issues across the country.
Also an Adolescent Girls and Young Women (AGYW) programme representative, Afia has previously worked at both the national and international level within non-governmental organisations including Plan International Zambia and Generation Alive Zambia.
She continues to speak out for the rights of girls, particularly to end gender-based violence, and call for an end to child marriage, most recently as a Power to Girls campaign champion.
Dr. Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda - AU Goodwill Ambassador, Zimbabwe
“Power to Girls! …Every experience, story, voice is important to making the change happen.”
Human rights lawyer, Founder and Executive Director of the Rozaria Memorial Trust and Goodwill Ambassador of the African Union Campaign to end child marriage, Dr. Nyaradzayi has remained an active advocate for ending violence against women, including sexual and reproductive health and rights-focused programmes for decades.
As the first Global South-based President to serve on the non-governmental Committee on the Status of Women, she dedicated her time to the prevention of sexual violence and protection of girls and young people across Eastern and Southern Africa.
Payzee Mahmod - Child marriage survivor and activist IKWRO – Women’s Rights Organisation, UK
"Child marriage is a form of violence against women and girls, meaning that it’s relevant to everyone.”
Payzee’s work to address child marriage in the UK as IKWRO - Women's Rights Organisation Campaigner has inspired a wave of change-focused conversations across England.
Most recently, her petition in support of IKWRO's "Safeguard Futures Ban Child Marriage" campaign has attracted more than a quarter of a million signatures. The campaign has achieved historic success with the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Minimum Age) bill outlawing child marriage in England and Wales passing its 3rd reading in the House of Commons last month before heading into its final stages at Parliament and hopefully becoming law within the next few months.
Mary Robinson - Chair of The Elders, Ireland
“I support Power to Girls by committing to empowering girls.”
As former President of Ireland and Chair of The Elders, Mary Robinson has spent her entire career dedicated to girls’ rights – particularly those from marginalised communities. Her work has been pivotal in efforts to advance human rights worldwide.
Eyleen - Youth Activist, Rise Up, Guatemala
“I want to call for a present and future with more opportunities for all girls of my generation to fulfil our dreams."
As one of the Rise Up network’s girl and young women leaders in Guatemala, Eyleen has spent the last seven years supporting adolescent girls and young women in her local community of Quetzaltenango.
She has steadily used her platform at Rise Up to speak out for the rights of Guatemalan girls, focusing on meaningful youth participation in decision-making spaces such as the 2021 Generation Equality Forum.
Watch our 2021 International Day of the Girl Instagram live with Eyleen; alongside fellow Youth activist Afia Simpande from the Athena Network and Girls Not Brides CEO Dr. Faith Mwangi-Powell.
Angana Prasad, Gender Lead, Project KHEL
"We need to promote girls’ voices and choices!"
Angana has been a core member of Project KHEL since 2012 and has thrived bridging creative outlets and solutions to critical issues around girls’ rights across India.
As a natural storyteller, she is actively engaged in curriculum development through theatre, craft workshops, storytelling, and other creative means, and continues to invent and explore new forms of art advocacy to support girls in sharing their own stories in their own communities.
She also facilitates various external workshops and trainings for other organizations and institutions, supporting Project Khel’s wider goal of creating fun and safe learning spaces for young adults to explore, engage and form connections through plays, fashion and various other creative means.
Join us and these 6 inspiring activists this International Women’s Day by making a commitment to support #PowerToGirls wherever you are and however you can, and raise your voice in solidarity with all those working with and for girls in their local and national contexts.
Let’s seize every opportunity to create a world without child marriage and support an equal future this International Women’s Day.
In the time it has taken to read this article 57 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 2 seconds