Author Archives: 2Y2W
Too Young to Wed (“TYTW”) is thrilled to announce our inaugural Laurel Borowick Grant will be awarded to the grassroots organization Solidarios Sin Fronteras. TYTW will be awarding the organization $10,000 to provide daily breakfasts to 525 schoolgirls in war-torn Yemen, where a looming famine makes child marriage an increasingly attractive option to families desperate for one less mouth to feed.
The United Nations has called the U.S.-backed, Saudi-led war on Yemen the world’s worst humanitarian crisis and a recent study estimated that more than 65% of Yemeni girls are now being married off before 18, compared to 50% before the conflict began.
This special grant, named after dear friend and TYTW’s first major donor, the late Laurel Borowick, will provide emergency assistance and education to girls in humanitarian settings where child marriages are often most common. At 40 cents per meal, this year’s grant will provide girls in need with 25,000 healthy breakfasts over nearly three months, incentivizing parents to value education over early marriage.
“We selected Solidarios Sin Fronteras to be our first Laurel Borowick grant recipient because their compassionate and fearless work in Yemen exemplifies Laurel’s selfless spirit,” said TYTW founder Stephanie Sinclair. “We also believe Yemen must be at the top of the international community’s humanitarian assistance list, as it is ours, because Yemeni girls, in wartime or not, are among the world’s most vulnerable.”
Organizers from Solidarios Sin Fronteras are grateful for the support at such a critical time for Yemen. “We are a very small NGO and we appreciate that Too Young to Wed believes in our work and wants to collaborate,” wrote founders Eva Erill and Noelia Ruiz of Spain and Faten al Osimi of Yemen. “This grant, in Laurel Borowick’s honor, is very special and helping 525 Yemeni girls receive food, education and protection against child marriage is a lovely way to remember her. The children of Yemen need all the support we can offer.”
The Borowick family is equally moved about this partnership in Laurel’s honor. “My mother would have felt honored that this critical work in Yemen is being supported by a grant in her name,” said Jessica Borowick, Laurel’s eldest daughter. “She was passionate about TYTW’s mission and inspired by Stephanie’s leadership and advocacy to protect girls’ rights. Selecting Solidarios Sin Fronteras as the inaugural Laurel Borowick grantee is a beautiful way to acknowledge my mother’s memory and salute her spirit.”
As a bright new year quickly approaches, Too Young to Wed (TYTW) would like to thank you for your tremendous support throughout 2017, our biggest year yet for helping child brides share their stories with the world to inspire people everywhere to act to help end early, child, and forced marriage, and protect girls’ rights.
Back in January, TYTW founder Stephanie Sinclair highlighted the dangerous lives of girls in the developing world as part of National Geographic’s powerful “Gender Revolution” issue. Her photo of nine-year-old Aarti from the series was named as one of the magazine’s Best Pictures of 2017. That same month, The New York Times featured our groundbreaking treansmedia project on Nigerian teens who had escaped captivity and forced marriage at the hands of Boko Haram.
TYTW’s devotion to advocacy through storytelling continued throughout the year in global publications, and a variety of film festivals and photography exhibits, the largest being the inaugural exhibition in the new gallery space atop Paris’ Grande Arche de la Defense. For four months, the awe-inspiring gallery showcased larger-than-life TYTW prints, including one of three Boko Haram survivors, which hung like massive tapestry from the ceiling, giving the girls an inescapable presence in the room. Several TYTW images are also part of an exciting new exhibition called Women Photograph Women which opens this week, December 30, at the Centro Internazionale di Fotografia in Palermo, Italy.
In August, Sinclair and several TYTW volunteers traveled to Maralal, Kenya, for our second Tehani Photo Workshop, named for an 8-year-old bride in Yemen. The five-day workshop, in partnership with the Samburu Girls Foundation and generously supported this year by our friends at Canon USA, provides child marriage survivors an opportunity to learn basic documentary photography skills, and also helps girls acquire tools to manage their trauma, express themselves, advocate for girls’ rights, and become mentors in subsequent workshops and in their communities.
In November, images shot by participants and mentors from this year’s workshop were included in the month-long World Press Photo exhibit in November in Washington, D.C., sponsored by Lightscape D.C. The exhibition also included several of Sinclair’s TYTW images from her 2017 International Women’s Media Foundation’s Anja Niedringhaus Courage in Photojournalism Award. The workshop participants’ stories were also featured in The New York Times, Refinery29, CNN, and National Geographic’s Instagram page reaching tens of millions of viewers worldwide as the year concluded.
Your generous support also funded TYTW’s outreach program, which included renewing educational scholarships for girls in Nepal and Kenya, and founding new ones in Nigeria.
We cannot stress it enough: TYTW’s wildly successful year could not have been possible without your support. We deeply appreciate your efforts to help us empower these brave young women and the thousands of girls just like them around the world.
Whether you’re looking for charitable giving options in the waning hours of 2017 or are seeking one for 2018, please consider giving to Too Young to Wed to help us protect girls’ rights and end child marriage. Give before December 31st and your donation will be eligible for a 2017 tax deduction.
Wishing you a happy and healthy New Year!
Last month in the U.S., New Jersey Governor Chris Christie conditionally vetoed bill A3091 which banned marriages for anyone under the age of 18 in the state with no exceptions. This hard-line bill would have been the first of its kind in the country.
Despite the bill’s bipartisan support, Christie opted to squander the remarkable opportunity to close child marriage legal loopholes by falling back on the ridiculous claim that to do so would impinge the religious freedom of New Jersey residents, according to an article in Politico. Christie appears to have been swayed by religious special-interest groups who raised concerns that more children would be born out of wedlock if marriage between 16 and 17-year-olds were banned.
Rightfully, the governor’s decision was met with extensive criticism from organizations like Too Young to Wed and the media, most notably from a column by Nicholas Kristof in The New York Times.
Some took it one step further. Our friends at the nonprofit Unchained at Last, which works to provide assistance to survivors of child marriage in the United States, organized a Chain-In, where protesters donned wedding dresses and bound their wrists with costume chains. They gathered in front of the New Jersey State House in Trenton on June 1 with speakers including Unchained At Last’s Executive Director, Fraidy Reiss, as well as advocates from Human Rights Watch and the National Organization for Women.
Unchained At Last has reported that forced marriage overwhelmingly takes place in closed religious groups where there are few resources (if any) for underage spouses to access. The cases also overwhelmingly involve a minor girl and a much older man.
“I have gotten too many phone calls from girls under 18 who are either facing pressure to get married or are trying to leave a marriage,” said Christina, the Director of Client Services at Unchained at Last and who wished to be identified only by her first name.
For girls wishing to leave a forced marriage, there are extremely limited resources in New Jersey and elsewhere in the U.S. Domestic violence shelters are often unable to take girls under 18, and minors who leave home are seen as runaways and are swiftly returned to the very situations they are trying to escape. Legal advice, healthcare and education can also become difficult to access, just as the Too Young to Wed team has repeatedly witnessed in our projects around the globe.
Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of this whole story is that it highlights the fact that there is no true child marriage ban in the United States. The U.S. Department of State has declared marriage under the age of 18 is a human rights abuse, but, shockingly, state laws across the country do not reflect this. Other bills seeking to ban forced and underage marriage have failed to pass in states like New Hampshire and New York*.
Gov. Christie leaves office in January 2018, but human rights abuses to which he turned a blind eye will continue until we move forward with meaningful change in place of legal loopholes and special interest kowtowing.
*Last week, a bill passed in the New York State Assembly and will now go to the Governor’s desk. Previous attempts were introduced but not put to a vote.
Greetings Friends and TYTW Supporters,
We at Too Young to Wed were saddened and dismayed to hear of the memo that was released by the current United States government that would remove funding for “Let Girls Learn,” an initiative targeting women’s empowerment and education around the world. The “Let Girls Learn” program was started in 2015 by former first lady Michelle Obama to provide vital opportunities to girls in developing nations.
As our own projects have taken us around the developing world, we are well aware of the many barriers that girls face in getting an education. It was clear that the “Let Girls Learn” initiative was both needed and highly effective. Helping empower the world’s women and girls with education helps close the gender gap on all fronts, which directly leads to an increase in economic opportunity and stability, personal and community health, national and global security, and many other issues of vital important to our interests here in America and beyond, no matter which party holds the reins.
Today, the White House quickly walked back its statement on the future of “Let Girls Learn,” but it remains unclear as to the initiative’s fate moving forward. Therefore, we were proud to co-sign a statement by the International Center for Research on Women and co-signed by 117 other organizations working to advance the empowerment of women and girls around the world. The final statement was delivered to OMB Director Mick Mulvaney, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Acting USAID Administrator Wade Warren, and Special Assistant to the President Ivanka Trump.
You can see the complete statement and a total list of the 118 co-signing organizations over at the ICRW.
Thank you all for your continued support.
Stephanie Sinclair & the Too Young to Wed Team
Greetings Friends and TYTW Supporters!
Too Young To Wed (TYTW) is excited to announce we have partnered with Global Giving to launch our Adolescent Girls Photography Workshop funding campaign!
Born out of TYTW’s strong community ties, our immersive five-day workshops bring former child brides and at-risk girls together to help them process their trauma, gain confidence, and communicate their stories using the power of photography.
You can help make real change in these girls’ lives. For example:
- Only $10 provides an attendee with a personal hygiene kit. $10 more pays for a trauma training workbook.
- $25 covers an attendee’s personal expenses during the workshop.
- $100 pays for an attendee’s travel costs to and from the workshop.
- And $250 covers the cost the workshop for one girl, including materials and meals.
To learn more about our Adolescent Girls Photography Workshops, visit our Global Giving campaign HERE.
Stand with Child Marriage Survivors: Support TYTW’s Adolescent Girls Photography Workshop. Together, we can create a generation of empowered advocates and community leaders in the fight to protect girls’ rights and end child marriage.
Stephanie Sinclair & the Too Young To Wed Team