Can We End Child Marriage? The Ambitious Campaign Being Led by Nelson Mandela

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[Editor's note: The needs of girls aren’t generally a high priority when the world’s rich and powerful gather at the lofty World Economic Forum in Davos. So I was elated to hear that this year’s event will focus on a horrific problem affecting girls: child marriage. A determined effort to end child marriage is being led by The Elders, a group of global leaders founded by none other than Nelson Mandela. If the issue of child marriage is new to you or one that moves you, Marianne Schnall has an enlightening interview at Women’s Media Center with one of the campaign’s other movers and shakers--Archbishop Desmond Tutu.--Mona]

She writes:

Archbishop Tutu says that until The Elders began working on child marriage, “it had not occurred to me how little the girl child is even thought about in broader efforts to lift people out of poverty and defend basic human rights principles.” In a trip to the Amhara region of Ethiopia last year, meeting girls and women who had been married as young as eight, he witnessed the repercussions firsthand. “It’s one thing to hear experts talking about child marriage, but it’s quite another to meet these girls and hear their stories,” he says. “You realize this affects every aspect of their lives: they leave school before they can complete their education; their young bodies bear children before they are physically ready to do so; they’re unable to negotiate safe sexual practices with their older husbands. They really are some of the most vulnerable and voiceless people on earth.”

indian girls

Credit Image: Graham Crouch/The Elders on Flickr

Read more from Letting Girls Be Girls--A Global Campaign at Women's Media Center

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