When Girls Not Brides: The Global Partnership to End Child Marriage was founded a decade ago, child marriage was barely recognised or spoken about internationally, despite affecting hundreds of millions of girls and women around the world. We set out to build a movement to raise the profile of the issue and ensure it is reflected in global policies and development agendas. Now we are an effective, dynamic and impact-driven organisation supporting a Partnership of over 1,600 member organisations working towards a common goal: a world without child marriage where girls and women enjoy equal status with boys and men, and can reach their full potential.
The COVID-19 pandemic continued to threaten this progress over 2021, but together we kept child marriage on the national and international agenda, holding decision-makers to account for their commitments to girls’ rights. Reflecting on what we have learned over the last decade – and on the impact of the pandemic – we focused in on collective action, youth engagement, gender-transformative and intersectional approaches, and converting evidence into action.
In a challenging year, I found inspiration in our work with Girls Not Brides National and State Partnerships and coalitions, who spearhead the movement at the national level. Through them we connected with regional youth, feminist and Indigenous movements, building momentum and bringing greater diversity to our collective action. We promoted youth and women’s leadership, supporting them to participate in regional and global advocacy spaces, where they directly influenced the international agenda.
On our 10th anniversary, we re-energised the global Partnership with the Power to Girls campaign, calling for immediate action to end child marriage at a time when political will and financial support was being diverted to the pandemic response. By year-end we had reached over 100,000 stakeholders on social media and inspired 168 commitments to girls’ rights through our website, including from national governments, donors and civil society from Mexico to Pakistan. With member organisations, we encouraged the UN Human Rights Council to include bolder language on girls’ rights in their fifth resolution on Child, Early and Forced Marriages, building a stronger environment for long-term, sustainable change.
We continued to act as a key source of information and collective learning on child marriage. We worked with member organisations to strengthen the global evidence base, facilitate cross-regional and multi-stakeholder collaboration and shared learning, and promote evidence-based actions that prevent child marriage and support married girls. We contributed to greater coordination of global research and uptake of evidence by co-hosting the Child Marriage Research to Action Network, officially launched in 2021.
Lessons from a decade of collective experience will guide our work for the next four years, as outlined in our refreshed Partnership Strategy and new Secretariat Strategy. Our collective work is needed now more than ever, and if we accelerate our actions I believe we can reach our shared vision of a world without child marriage.
I look forward to continuing this journey with our friends and partners around the world in 2022!
Dr Faith Mwangi-Powell
CEO, Girls Not Brides: The Global Partnership to End Child Marriage