By providing visual evidence of the human rights challenges faced by women and girls around the world, Too Young to Wed aims to amplify their courageous voices and build a global community dedicated to ending child, early and forced marriage and supporting positive change for these girls. To that end, Too Young to Wed partners with local nonprofits and supports income-generating projects, literacy classes and girl engagement groups where the girls in our stories live.
Too Young to Wed, a nonprofit organization, traces its official launch back to October 11, 2012 – the first International Day of the Girl Child. Dignitaries from around the world gathered at the United Nations in New York City that day and, surrounded by photographs of child brides as young as 5, pledged to do whatever it took to end child marriage.
But the campaign’s roots stretch back another decade, to Herat, Afghanistan, where visual journalist Stephanie Sinclair was working on a story about girls and women who set themselves on fire. There, she discovered a disturbing pattern among the scarred patients in the hospital’s burn ward: Most of them had been forced into marriage as children. Horrified to learn that child marriage was common in communities throughout the world, Sinclair dedicated the next 10 years of her life to documenting the practice in the hopes of inspiring change.
Sinclair is a member of VII Photo, and in 2012, the premier agency joined forces with the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) to create a transmedia campaign aimed at raising awareness of the problem, supporting girls who are already married and ultimately halting the practice that affects one girl every two seconds—or an estimated 142 million more girls over the next decade. In addition, child marriage is inextricably linked to many of the world’s ills: child and maternal mortality, poverty, gender inequality, and the spread of HIV/AIDS—and ending the practice will help stamp out many of these problems.
Too Young to Wed’s traveling photo exhibit is the centerpiece of our advocacy effort and features the haunting stories of child brides from Nepal, India, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Yemen, Afghanistan and yes, even the United States. The exhibition continues to travel the world, so please check our events calendar for an updated schedule.
Too Young to Wed continues to partner with the UNFPA as well as other organizations such as Equality Now, the Population Council, Timret LeHiwot Ethiopia and the Canadian and UK governments. Together, we not only advocate for an end to child marriage, but provide on-the-ground support to the girls in the communities where these pictures were made. Our first pilot project is a livelihood initiative in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia that employs women who have escaped child marriage and/or have been trafficked. By producing and selling high-quality soaps, these women generate a sustainable income for themselves and their families.
By increasing the visibility of child marriage, we hope to provoke thoughtful dialogue and ACTION to end this practice and eradicate its consequences. We appreciate your support and contributions may be made through our fiscal sponsor Equality Now.