As part of the ongoing collaboration between Girls Not Brides: The Global Partnership to End Child Marriage, Girls First Fund, VOW for Girls, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Clooney Foundation for Justice, and Girls Opportunity Alliance, dedicated activists and leaders joined together at The Centre for the Book, an outreach unit of the National Library of South Africa, united in their efforts to end child marriage and support adolescent girls.
Speakers included Graça Machel, Michelle Obama, Melinda French Gates, Amal Clooney, Dr Faith Mwangi-Powell, Lakshmi Moore, Memory Banda, Rebeca Gyumi, Kadidiatou Konate, and Ulanda Mtamba.
Leaders from around the world gather together to amplify voices to end child marriage
The heartbeat of the event was the Ending Child Marriage discussion, comprising of a panel of experts working with and in their communities to end child marriage. Chaired by Program Director at Girls First Fund Lakshmi Moore, Founder and Executive Director of the Msichana Initiative Rebeca Gyumi, Executive Director of the Young Leaders Club of Guinea Kadidiatou Konate, and Country Director of Advancing Girls’ Educationin Africa Ulanda Mtamba shared their expertise on how to end child marriage, including and strategies that have made an impact in their country.
This was followed by a panel of global leaders, including Former First Lady of Mozambique and South Africa and Girls Not Brides global champion Graça Machel, Former First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama, global philanthropist Melinda French Gates, and leading human rights lawyer Amal Clooney.
The event served as a resounding call to action to act now to end child marriage.
Raising awareness of child marriage around the world and the need for collective action
The event was covered by media outlets from around the world, exemplifying the power of unified voices and collective action in raising awareness of the issue of child marriage. Coverage highlights include:
- Obama, Clooney and Gates: 'We can end child marriage in a generation' - BBC News
- Amal Clooney, Melinda French Gates and Michelle Obama on their fight to end child marriage: Exclusive - Glamour Magazine
- ‘All girls need is a chance’ says Michelle Obama at Cape Town discussion on eradicating child marriage - Daily Maverick
Outcomes and what next?
Girls Not Brides also convened leaders of National Partnerships and coalitions from the Southern Africa region, who together discussed strategies to advocate for the application of the SADC Model Law in Southern African countries to support work to end child marriage.
The event followed on from a successful roundtable discussion in Malawi, and a significant announcement from The Government of Malawi in their commitment to end child, early and forced marriages and unions in Malawi, including the harmonisation of legal statutes with SADC protocols.
Girls Not Brides: The Global Partnership to End Child Marriage, Girls First Fund and VOW for Girls will continue to collaborate with VOW for Girls, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Clooney Foundation for Justice, and Girls Opportunity Alliance in our efforts to end child marriage.
In the time it has taken to read this article 30 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