This year, 25 November marked the 30th anniversary of the 16 Days of Activism against gender-based violence, and for Girls Not Brides – an important opportunity to champion the #PowerToGirls campaign, urging decision makers to take action to end child marriage . From the opening commemoration of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to 10 December’s closing Human Rights Day, we lined up a series of exciting campaign activities across the two and a half weeks to amplify our member organisations’ voices and their work to end child marriage in their national contexts, as well as highlight child marriage as a form of violence against women and girls.
Created in 1991 by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership, the 16 Days campaign continues to act as a reminder of the gender-based violence many women and girls across the world face daily. As well as reaching its 30th anniversary, this year’s 16 Days celebrations continued to take on a new meaning as COVID-19 continues to disproportionately impact girls. The gendered impacts of the pandemic include increased cases of domestic violence, increased domestic responsibilities and lack of access to learning and personal support that women and girls from marginalised communities face.
In response, the global community ramped up collective digital activism to ensure that COVID-related restrictions didn’t stop us taking action for girls’ rights across the 16 Days.
As part of the #PowerToGirls campaign, we kicked off our 16 Days celebrations with an Instagram live discussion between our Head of Asia Engagement - Shipra Jha, and child marriage activist, IKWRO campaigner and Girls Not Brides champion Pazyee Mahmod, exploring activism to end child marriage and the campaign.
Followed by a focus on Africa, where our members at Raising Teenagers Uganda and our National Partnership , Girls Not Brides Uganda, took the baton and continued the social media takeover.
In between activities, youth activists and leaders from across our Partnership including Plan International, GAGE, Girls First Fund and The Elders shared their #PowerToGirls commitments. We also heard a strong campaign commitment from the youth ambassador and general ambassador from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs:
We also highlighted how individuals can take part in the 16 Days activities within their local communities, including watching a girl-led film, supporting local campaigns and grass-root initiatives, and reaching out to local or national decision-makers to support girls rights where they are based.
Our Power to Girls ribbon challenge saw activists and leaders take part in sharing their commitments to ending child marriage.
We continued to share key messages around the impact of gender-based violence and inequality on girls’ lives, as well as regional campaign commitments and reflections on what #PowerToGirls means.
And award-winning Malian singer Oumou Sangaré and Afghan rapper and activist Sonita Alizadeh joined the #PowerToGirls movement by sharing their own #PowerToGirls commitments.
On 7 December, we joined Care International, Plan International and Plan MEESA at the #ChildYouthForum event highlighting all urgent action needed to address harmful attitudes & norms driving child marriage.
And on 10 December, we closed our 16 Days activities on Human Rights Day by joining Action Aid and the Right to Education Initiative in a webinar exploring girls’ Rights to Education.
Because when girls are free from violence, their power is limitless, and their futures are theirs.
You can make a difference by making your Power to Girls commitment today.
In the time it has taken to read this article 36 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