President Bill Clinton describes child marriage as “a form of slavery” and recognises Girls Not Brides

Photo credit: Adam Schultz / Clinton Global Initiative

At the Clinton Global Initiative 2012, President Bill Clinton described child marriage as “a form of slavery” and recognised the work of Girls Not Brides and its partners The Elders, Ford Foundation and the Sabanci Foundation to address child marriage.

“I would like to invite to the stage: Mary Robinson, Former President of Ireland Gro Harlem Brundtland, Former Prime Minister of Norway, Luis Ubiñas of the Ford Foundation, Güler Sabanci of Sabanci Holdings and Foundation.

Every year, about 10 million girls under the age of 18 are married worldwide with little or no say in the matter. That’s more than 25,000 girls a day, 19 a minute. Some child brides are as young as eight or nine.

Recognizing that child marriage is a devastating practice that has not received enough international attention, The Elders — I can’t bear to think of Mary Robinson and Gro Brundtland as Elders, me maybe, not them — The Elders have partnered with the Ford, Nike, and NoVo Foundations to announce the ‘Girls Not Brides’ commitment at last year’s Annual Meeting.

For the past year, this commitment has worked to raise awareness, increase investment, and mobilize leaders locally and internationally; boasting already a membership of 180 civil society organizations in more than 35 nations.

Güler Sabanci learned about ‘Girls Not Brides’ at last year’s meeting  and was inspired to address this problem in her home nation of Turkey. The Sabanci Foundation’s new commitment will work with Turkish NGOs and ‘Girls Not Brides’ to support coordination and communication among local, national, and global child marriage initiatives.

This too can be a form of slavery and I thank them for what they are doing.”

Girls Not Brides was launched at the Clinton Global Initiative in September 2011. At the time, The Elders, the Ford Foundation, the Nike Foundation and the NoVo Foundation committed to jointly establish ‘Girls Not Brides: The Global Partnership to End Child Marriage’ and see it grow to a membership of at least 150 organisations running programmes in at least 20 countries by December 2012. We are delighted to say that these targets have already been reached.