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Girls Not Brides founder Mabel van Oranje to move to Global Champion role to end child marriage

Mabel van Oranje | Photo: Jeroen van der Meyde.

Girls Not Brides will appoint a new Chair of the Board of Trustees in 2021

LONDON 22 January 2021 – Mabel van Oranje, global advocate and founder of Girls Not Brides: The Global Partnership to End Child Marriage, will move from her role as Chair of the Board of Trustees in the course of 2021, after more than a decade of working to end child marriage. She will continue her work as a leader, expert and advocate on ending child marriage in a new role as Global Champion for Girls Not Brides. Mabel joins existing Champions Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Mrs. Graça Machel, and Sonita Alizadeh. In her capacity as a facilitator of the Champions group, which will be expanded further in 2021, Mabel will help to build networks to accelerate existing efforts to end child marriage, and act as a catalyst for the sector.

Mabel believes that after ten years as Board Chair, the time has come to make space for fresh leadership. She will leave the role of Board Chair of Girls Not Brides during the course of 2021. The exact timing of Mabel’s transition to the Champions group will be dependent on the search for and on-boarding of a new Board Chair.

“I started to work on the issue of child marriage as CEO of The Elders in 2010. I was shocked that a problem that is so big and has such severe consequences, was getting very little attention. It swiftly became clear that achieving significant change required closer partnership and collaboration between civil society organisations, and with governments, UN agencies, donors, and religious and traditional leaders. Girls Not Brides was created to empower civil society to play a central role in these efforts,” said van Oranje.

She continued: “I am excited and proud of the enormous progress and change that our movement has achieved together in the last decade. Ending child marriage is now enshrined as a target in the Sustainable Development Goals. We have UN resolutions, high-level political commitments, new legislation and national strategies to end child marriage in many countries. Our movement has generated evidence about what works to end child marriage, and raised more funding and commitments from donors. Yet there is still much to be done to make sure that every girl can decide whether, when and whom to marry. I look forward to continuing my contributions to the cause of ending child marriage in this new capacity as champion for the sector, and for girls.”

Over the last decade, Mabel has made significant contributions to Girls Not Brides’ strategy, its advocacy successes and its collaboration with multiple actors, including UN agencies, governments of high prevalence countries, donor governments and private foundations. She has also played a catalytic role in mobilising more resources for the sector, including the creation of the Girls First Fund to support local efforts to end child marriage, and VOW to End Child Marriage, the initiative launched in late 2018 to mobilise the multi-billion dollar US wedding industry in support of ending child marriage. Mabel is the Board Chair of VOW.

Dr. Faith Mwangi-Powell, CEO of Girls Not Brides, said: “For ten years Mabel has served as vision-bearer for Girls Not Brides, as we have grown our partnership from 50 to over 1,500 civil society organisations across the world. We are thankful for Mabel’s constant leadership and long service, not only for our Global Partnership but also for the wider movement to end child marriage. I am excited and grateful that we will continue to benefit from her unwavering steady hand, contagious enthusiasm, collaborative spirit and wise counsel in her new role as Global Champion.

Mwangi-Powell continued: “We share Mabel’s resolve to see a world where girls are free to make choices and live out their dreams, and are delighted that she will continue to accelerate efforts to end child marriage as a Global Champion. Our work is all the more important in a world facing the global pandemic of COVID-19, whose impact is threatening to undo many years of progress.”

The Board of Girls Not Brides will launch the global search for a new Board Chair in the coming weeks. Mabel will continue in her current role with Girls Not Brides until a successor is appointed.


For more information please contact Fiona Sinclair, Head of Communications at media@girlsnotbrides.org / +44 7741 148331

About Girls Not Brides: The Global Partnership to End Child Marriage

Girls Not Brides is a global partnership of more than 1,500 civil society organisations from over 100 countries committed to ending child marriage and enabling girls to fulfil their potential.

Members are based throughout Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. We share the conviction that every girl has the right to lead the life that she chooses and that, by ending child marriage, we can achieve a safer, healthier and more prosperous future for all.

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