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Funds raised during Too Young to Wed’s first print sale will support efforts to empower girls and women in Ethiopia, Kenya and earthquake-stricken Nepal.
Though the sale ended Tuesday—after a 48-hour extension due to high demand—donations from around the world continued to roll in. By Thursday, more than 400 individuals had donated time, money and expertise toward the nonprofit’s first major fundraiser.
“It was a huge success, and we are left humbled and deeply moved by your generosity and support for an issue that clearly means so much to us,” said Too Young to Wed founder Stephanie Sinclair, whose images of child brides have inspired advocates and policymakers to push for an end to child marriage. “We are so pleased that so many of you have chosen to take this journey with us.”
The print sale coincided with Too Young to Wed’s exhibit at Photoville 2015, a photo extravaganza in Brooklyn, N.Y., that attracted more than 76,000 visitors to workshops, panels and installations this year.
“Photoville was amazing. They really supported our work in a very generous and beautiful way,” said Sinclair, who shared the nonprofit’s mission with hundreds of visitors over the course of the week. “It was almost like a coming-out party for us. People didn’t know we were an organization.”
In addition to Photoville, Sinclair credited the event’s overwhelming success to publicity from a number of media outlets—including the New York Times, Time and National Geographic—as well as support from numerous humanitarian organizations, like the Ford Foundation, One and the Girl Effect. Facebook and Instagram promoted the effort, and Twitter users—among them Tony-nominated Broadway performer Stephanie Block and “Gotham” cast members Ben McKenzie, Morena Baccarin and Erin Richards—championed the cause. Even singer Ricky Martin trumpeted the event on his Instagram account.
“We got so much love,” said Sinclair. “We know that love and support is meant for the girls, and we promise we’re going to do everything in our power to support them and bring an end to child marriage.”
Too Young to Wed was launched on Oct. 11, 2012 – the first International Day of the Girl Child – as a multimedia partnership with the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) to raise awareness of child marriage, assist child brides and bring an end to the practice that affects one girl every two seconds. The organization officially incorporated as a 501(c)(3) in February 2015.
Its primary focus will always be to “provide powerful visual storytelling, then bring our girls’ stories to the world to help inspire an end to child marriage,” said Sinclair. The nonprofit will continue to raise awareness about child marriage and offer support to on-the-ground projects in the communities where the girls in the images live, to promote positive change.
The organization is still tallying contributions from its inaugural print sale, but intends to use the proceeds primarily to help three communities: the village of Gombat, outside Bahir Dar, Ethiopia, where an adolescent empowerment initiative aims to help girls in rural areas; The Samburu Girls Foundation in northern Kenya, which provides shelter and education to girls rescued from child marriage, female genital mutilation and other harmful practices; and Kagati village in the Kathmandu Valley of Nepal, where an earthquake this year flattened homes and the village school, leaving young girls that much more vulnerable to child marriage.
Too Young to Wed has begun conversations with partners in those communities to work out the details, and specifics will be forthcoming, said Sinclair.
“Meanwhile, we are now busy preparing the studio for this huge print run! Expect your prints to arrive in the coming weeks,” she said. “And from the bottom of our hearts, thank you.”
Kate Gilmore, the UNFPA’s executive director and assistant secretary-general, was visiting an obstetric fistula hospital in Nigeria when she spotted the young girl.
While the other youngsters at the hospital eagerly approached the delegation, this girl stood on the periphery, like she wanted to approach but lacked the courage.
For an hour or more, she followed the group on its tour of the hospital, smiling shyly and keeping a safe distance. Gilmore pointed her out, and the staff explained her back story.
She’d been married at 10 and become pregnant at 11. She lost the baby, but not before her bladder and bowel were ruptured. Abandoned by her 65-year-old husband, the girl was brought to the hospital by her mother.
Doctors had been able to repair her—but no one ever came back to claim her.
Now 14, she’d lived at the hospital for a year.
“How can it be,” Gilmore asked while sharing this story last week during a briefing on child marriage, “that we have not managed to declare this a humanitarian crisis?”
Gilmore related the tale Thursday morning during a panel discussion in a packed fourth-floor room in the Russell Senate Building, where images from the Too Young to Wed exhibit filled the Senate rotunda.
She shared the dais with a number of advocates who explained the importance of ending child marriage, described some of the challenges they face and offered concrete examples of programs that are working.
The group, moderated by Margaret Hemple of the Ford Foundation, included Gilmore as well as Rachel Vogelstein, a women and foreign policy fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations; Jennifer Redner, senior program officer at the International Women’s Health Coalition and co-chair of Girls Not Brides; Dr. Priya Nanda, director of the social and economic development group at the International Center for Research on Women’s Asia Regional Office in India; and Stephanie Sinclair, the photographer whose images form the heart of Too Young to Wed’s advocacy efforts.
Each member of the panel spoke for several minutes, pointing out the need not only for laws banning child marriage and punishing those who practice it, but for programs within the affected communities that encourage a long-term change in mindset and behavior.
In India, the ICRW and USAID are evaluating the success of a program that pays families to delay the marriage of their daughters, said Nanda. Information gleaned from that study could be used to help guide other efforts aimed at curbing child marriage.
Collecting accurate, age-aggregated data on girls and women affected by the practice is key to developing better strategies for dealing with it, said Redner.
Vogelstein urged members of the audience, many of them congressional aides, to voice their concerns about child marriage to the State Department and USAID, urging officials in those agencies to make ending the practice a cornerstone of foreign policy efforts.
Sinclair asked those present to apply their personal strengths—whether they be in policy, public-speaking, photography or anything else—to solving this problem.
Members of the audience were encouraged to ask questions and included at least one woman from Afghanistan, who escaped child marriage despite being engaged at the age of 6, and another woman of Bangladeshi descent whose mother was a child bride.
Gilmore praised both women for speaking about their experiences, saying one of the most powerful forces for change would be the courage of women just like them. She referenced a Susan Sontag quote about the importance of not only gazing upon injustice—through the photographs and stories of those who endure suffering—but acting to end that injustice. And she said she hoped the images in the Too Young to Wed exhibit would spur those present to do just that.
The young girl outside the medical facility in Nigeria eventually felt comfortable enough to approach the visitors and engage with them, Gilmore said.
“She eventually held our hands,” she said. “Whose hands are we holding as we gaze upon the images Stephanie’s granted us?”
The powerful images of child brides that make up the heart of Too Young To Wed’s advocacy efforts are in Washington, D.C., this week for a three-day exhibit.
The photographs by VII photographer Stephanie Sinclair will be on display Tuesday through Thursday, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., in the rotunda of the Russell Senate Office Building at Constitution Avenue NE and First Avenue NE. Free and open to the public.
The exhibit, launched at the United Nations in New York on Oct. 11, 2012—the first International Day of the Girl Child—just wrapped up a month-long visit to Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada, organized by VII, the UNFPA and the Canadian Parliament.
The exhibit’s stop in D.C. includes a panel discussion Thursday from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. in room 485 of the Senate building. Representatives from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW), the Ford Foundation, the Council on Foreign Relations, and Girls Not Brides USA, as well as Stephanie Sinclair, the award-winning photographer behind the exhibit, will discuss the importance of curbing the practice of child marriage, present strategies that have met with success and take questions from the audience.
The exhibit’s stop in D.C. is made possible by the United Nations Foundation, Ford Foundation and Girls Not Brides.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – On the eve of the first International Day of the Girl Child, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton unveiled more than $100 million in public and private initiatives aimed at curbing child marriage worldwide and keeping young girls in developing countries in school.
Clinton made the announcement before an auditorium full of Girl Scouts celebrating the organization’s 100th anniversary. She was joined on stage at the State Department by Melanne Verveer, ambassador-at-large for Global Women’s Issues, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, chairman of The Elders, a group of global leaders responsible for creating Girls Not Brides: The Global Partnership to End Child Marriage.
The goal, said Clinton, is an ambitious one: to develop and support programs that bring about the end of child marriage by 2030.
“We don’t have too much time to waste. We have to get started today,” he said. “We want to give every girl, and every boy, the opportunity to live up to their God-given potential no matter where they live.”
Among the programs announced:
• In 2013, the State Department’s annual country Reports on Human Rights Practice will track every country’s legal minimum age of marriage as well as the rate of marriage for girls and boys under 18. The department uses those reports, which are submitted to Congress, to evaluate countries that receive U.S. assistance.
• Working with Bangladesh’s Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) will launch a pilot program, working with religious leaders, media, local governments and NGOs to foster community support for an end to child marriage.
• The UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, has pledged $20 million over the next five years for programs in 12 key countries—including Guatemala, India, Niger and Zambia—aimed at curbing child marriage by keeping young girls in school and teaching them life skills, as well as supporting girls who are already married with leadership development programs.
• The nonprofit Ford Foundation, which helped launch Girls Not Brides with The Elders, has committed $25 million over the next five years for efforts to end child marriage in India, Nigeria, Egypt and other countries in Central America and Southern and West Africa.
The new initiatives that focus primarily on supporting universal education for girls include:
• A program in East Africa, Nigeria an India to improve girls’ enrollment in secondary education, sponsored by $10 million over the next five years from The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and $39 million from The MasterCard Foundation.
• EAGLE, or Empowering Adolescent Girls to Lead Through Education, a joint effort between USAID and the Presidents’ Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR. The program, which has a $15 million budget over the next five years, focuses on resolving problems—like cost and school safety—that keep adolescent girls in the Democratic Republic of Congo from going on to secondary school.
• Also beginning in 2013, all teachers who come to the U.S. under department-sponsored training programs will be required to take courses that improve their ability to recognize the challenges girls face in the classroom.
Clinton specifically mentioned the plight of 14-year-old Malala Yousufzai, a Pakistani girl who was shot Tuesday on her school bus. The Taliban has claimed responsibility for seriously wounding the outspoken teen, who had written extensively on her blog about the threats posed to girls trying to attend school in her country.
“Yesterday’s attack reminds us of the challenges girls face just for speaking out for their basic rights,” Clinton said.
Tutu also addressed the crowd, noting that as barriers to women’s advancement have fallen, the world has benefited. Ending child marriage will have a similar effect, he said, dealing blows to poverty, disease and violence.
“Without women, the world faces perdition, destruction. We need you. We need you to save us, so we’ve got this incredible commitment,” said Tutu, who is participating in Thursday’s International Day of the Girl events at the UN. “Just think what a wonderful world this will be.”
WANT TO JOIN THE DISCUSSION?
Celebrate the first ever International Day of the Girl and join @Girls Not Brides’ Google Hangout to discuss how we can end child marriage now. Tune in at 10 a.m. EST on Thursday, 10/11/12, to join Mary Robinson of The Elders, Christy Turlington, UNICEF and others to discuss how we can enable millions of girls to fulfill their potential. bit.ly/R0o4j1
By: Omar J. Robles, 2y2w Contributor
The Ford Foundation, in partnership with Girls Not Brides, just released an interactive world map on child marriage this summer—click on the image above to explore it!
The Ford Foundation, a nonprofit that supports leaders and organizations pushing social change, created this map of the 30 countries with the world’s highest rates of child marriage using the latest research, national statistics, and a global network of NGOs’ country-level experiences. These 30 countries account for a significant proportion of the 10 million girls who marry as children every year.
The interactive resource—part of the Ford Foundation’s Youth, Sexuality, and Reproductive Health and Rights Initiative—allows users to do more than merely visualize the rates of child marriage: you can explore the links between high rates of child marriage and harmful consequences for girls’ health, education, income-generation, and independence.
The map is intended to make it easier for the general public, the donor community, and policymakers to visualize the magnitude of the global challenge. The Ford Foundation hopes the map will serve to help local advocates feel connected to a broader global community that is working to end child marriage—it serves to not only visually capture the extent of the human rights violation, but to do so in a way that will motivate people to take action.
Get engaged. Check out the site. And then spread the word . . .
10 million child brides/year are #2young2wed. http://bit.ly/NT4G88 #protectgirlsrights #endchildmarriage