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G(irls) 20 Summit aims to give voice to 10 million child brides

Mabel van Oranje Photo credit: Tom Pietrasik|The Elders

In an extensive interview with the Globe and Mail, Mabel van Oranje, CEO of The Elders, describes child marriage as a complex issue but argues that complexity cannot be a reason to ignore the 10 million girls a year put at risk because of the practice.

When the second annual G(irls)20 Summit got under way Tuesday, each of the 21 delegates stood up and finished the sentence “I am here because …” Answers ranged from acting as a voice for women around the world to questioning the lack of women working in science.

Conceived by The Belinda Stronach Foundation, the four-day meeting on empowering young women selects one student from each of the countries represented by the G20 plus one additional girl from the African Union and takes place ahead of the G20 summit next month.

Sudhir Shetty from the World Bank, Canadian singer Jann Arden and American actor Forest Whitaker are among the speakers who will discuss political, economic and social issues that the girls will use as the basis for a communiqué to be presented to G20 leaders.

Mabel van Oranje, chief executive of The Elders, an independent organization of global leaders chaired by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and spearheaded by Nelson Mandela, will address the issue of child marriage. By phone from London, the human-rights advocate and wife of Prince Friso of the Netherlands said child marriage is a large-scale problem that not only violates girls’ rights but also prevents economic growth in impoverished regions.

Child marriage has been happening for centuries but only recently has it become a voiced concern. How serious is it?

Here’s an issue affecting 10 million girls a year who are getting married before the age of 18 and no one is talking about them…

Read the full interview at the Globe and Mail