PRESS RELEASE: Girls’ Voices: Speaking Out Against Child Marriage
Exhibition to be launched at the African Girls’ Summit and the Commonwealth Heads of States meeting
Read in French
Girls Not Brides, in collaboration with the Government of Canada, will be launching its Girls’ Voices: Speaking Out Against Child Marriage exhibition during the Commonwealth Women’s Forum in Malta from November 22-24 and the African Girls’ Summit in Zambia from 26-27 November.
The exhibit reveals the untold stories of girls at risk of child marriage who are standing up for their rights, and the community members advocating for change alongside them. It features stories from girls, boys, women and men, as well as religious and traditional leaders from countries in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.
The images and stories aim to highlight the complex and multi-faceted nature of child marriage, highlighting the links between child marriage and poverty, education, sexual and reproductive health, humanitarian disasters, and religion.
Child marriage affects 15 million girls a year worldwide – the equivalent of the entire population of Zimbabwe or Mali. The African continent is currently home to 15 out of the 20 countries with the world’s highest rates of child marriage. African leaders have made some bold commitments to end child marriage. The African Union has launched a regional campaign, several countries have adopted national strategies, and African governments supported the Global Goals target to end child marriage.
It is encouraging that the Commonwealth is also working to address this important issue, particularly given that over half of the child brides in the world live in Commonwealth countries. In addition, national human rights institutions from fifteen Commonwealth countries adopted the Kigali Declaration earlier this year (May 2015), which sets out a comprehensive framework for efforts to prevent and end child marriage.
Lakshmi Sundaram, Executive Director of Girls Not Brides, said:
“This exhibition is a powerful way of giving voices to those courageous individuals fighting to end child marriage. These photos and stories are a window into the lives of young girls who have been pressurised into dropping out of school, leaving their families, and having children before they are either physically or mentally ready, all because of child marriage.
“Everyone has a role to play in ending child marriage – from regional and international organisations to national governments, civil society organisations and communities themselves. If we work together we can end this practice and create a brighter future for girls, their communities and their countries.”
Child marriage jeopardises efforts to improve maternal and infant health and has devastating consequences for a girl, her family, and her future children. Child brides face high risks of death and injury during pregnancy and childbirth. Their children are at risk too: when a mother is under 20 her baby is less likely to live beyond its first birthday.
“Child, early and forced marriage threatens the lives and futures of girls and women around the world. It is a violation of their human rights which disrupts their education, jeopardises their health, makes them more vulnerable to violence and limits their participation in economic, political and social spheres. Working together, we can end this harmful practice, so that girls around the world have the opportunity to live healthy and empowered lives,” said the Honourable Stéphane Dion, Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs.
“Canada is working closely with partners around the world, including international organisations, high-prevalence countries and civil society leaders such as Girls Not Brides, to ensure the momentum continues to finally end child, early and forced marriage. We welcome the target on ending child, early and forced marriage in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and are committed to doing our part to help achieve it,” said the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Canadian Minister of International Development and La Francophonie.
The Girls’ Voices: Speaking Out Against Child Marriage exhibit is presented by Girls Not Brides in partnership with the Government of Canada. It will be launched on the 22nd of November in Malta during the Commonwealth Women’s Forum at the Intercontinental Hotel, and on the 26th of November during the African Girls’ Summit in Lusaka, Zambia at the New Government Complex Conference Centre.
Girls Not Brides: The Global Partnership to End Child Marriage is a global partnership of over 550 civil society organisations in more than 70 countries, committed to ending child marriage.
Interviews are available with the following child marriage experts:
- Lakshmi Sundaram, Executive Director, Girls Not Brides (French and English speaking
Media contact: Maryam Mohsin, media@GirlsNotBrides.org, +447436095435, @GirlsNotBrides