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As 2015 comes to a close, the Too Young to Wed [TYTW] team would like to take a moment to say ‘thank you’ to our wonderful supporters and partners working with us to end child marriage around the world. You have helped us raise awareness of this crucially important issue and support the millions of girls around the world who have sacrificed their futures by becoming brides too soon. TYTW accomplished a tremendous amount in our first year of existence, and we could not have done it without you! Your commitment and support helped us:
- Partner with the United Nations and The New York Times on a multimedia project about the devastating effects of child marriage in Guatemala. This November, nine months after the story’s publication, Guatemalan lawmakers passed legislation raising the country’s minimum age of marriage to 18!
- Collaborate as a founding partner of The Girl Generation on a global effort to raise awareness on the issue of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). TYTW shared the powerful story of FGM survivor Kakenya Ntaiya, who was engaged at just 5-years-old but negotiated with her family to remain in school, then went on to earn a Ph.D. and open a school for girls in Kenya.
- Partner with the Canadian government to host several global photo exhibitions, including one in Khartoum, Sudan that catalyzed the adoption of a national strategy on child marriage. TYTW also hosted photo exhibitions in the United States, Bangladesh and Argentina.
- Exhibit in Photoville 2015, a photo extravaganza in N.Y.C. that attracted more than 76,000 visitors and featured installations, workshops and panel talks, including one with TYTW Founder Stephanie Sinclair. The event coincided with TYTW’s first print sale, which raised funds to help us provide support in communities where TYTW works.
- Participate in the First African Girls’ Summit on Ending Child Marriage in Africa this November in Zambia, where leaders from across the African continent discussed challenges to ending child marriage (more on that in 2016!).
- In addition, for her work covering child brides, Sinclair received the prestigious Art for Peace award at the annual Science for Peace World Conference in Milan, Italy, and the Lucie Foundation Humanitarian Award in New York – further raising the profile of the issue.
While 2015 was a big year for us, 2016 looks even bigger – and with our talented and inspired team, and your generous assistance, we expect to help the world take its biggest steps yet toward wiping out this harmful practice forever.
If you would like to do more to help us in the global fight against child marriage, there is still time left to make a valuable, tax-deductible donation to Too Young To Wed before the year concludes.
Once again, thank you for standing with our girls and helping us amplify their voices so that we can make change together. From our homes to yours, we wish you a peaceful holiday season.
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.”