Why is child marriage the focus of the International Day of the Girl? How can we end this harmful practice that affects millions of girls every year? How can advocates and activists – especially young people all around the world – take a stand against child marriage? On 11 October Mary Robinson, Christy Turlington Burns, experts and activists answered your questions and discussed child marriage in a live online conversation.
Watch the Google + Hangout
To mark the first International Day of the Girl on Thursday 11 October, the global Girls Not Brides partnership hosted a discussion on child marriage – the official theme of the day.
Mary Robinson took part in this online Google+ Hangout, with the video streamed live from The Elders’ website, Facebook page and Twitter. She was joined by Christy Turlington Burns of Every Mother Counts and several child marriage experts and activists from around the world to talk about the challenges of addressing this harmful traditional practice – and to point to some of the amazing work that is already being done to support families and communities in providing alternatives to early marriage.
Watch the video, and find out what can be done to help millions of girls avoid early marriage and fulfil their potential.
More information about the participants
Mary Robinson was the first woman President of Ireland and is a former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. She is also a member of The Elders, a group of independent leaders using their collective experience and influence for peace, justice and human rights worldwide. In 2011 The Elders founded Girls Not Brides: The Global Partnership to End Child Marriage. Mary Robinson and her fellow Elders have since visited Ethiopia and India to meet adolescent girls and boys determined to end child marriage.
With nearly thirty years at the forefront of the fashion industry, having graced every magazine cover from Vogue to Time, Christy Turlington Burns has established a diverse career as a model, writer, entrepreneur, spokesperson, advocate, and filmmaker. In 2010, she completed and debuted her documentary film, NO WOMAN, NO CRY, about the global state of maternal health. Concurrent with the debut of her documentary, Christy launched Every Mother Counts, an action and mobilisation campaign designed to educate and support maternal, newborn and child health. Photo: Every Mother Counts.
Dr Anju Malhotra is Principal Adviser, Gender and Rights, at UNICEF where her work helps children from diverse backgrounds overcome overcome the barriers to well-being and rights presented by gender discrimination and human rights violations. Her extensive research portfolio focuses on issues such as child marriage, girls’ education, innovation and women’s empowerment, and adolescent transition to adulthood, among others. Prior to this, Dr Malhotra worked for the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) working to maximise the potential of adolescent girls and developing viable frameworks and metrics for measuring women’s and girls’ empowerment. She is currently serving as a member of the Girls Not Brides Advisory Committee.
Muhammad Shahzad Khan, 27, hails from a village in Bahawalpur, Pakistan. When he was 12 years old, village elders told his father to marry his teenage sister to a 50-year-old man. Muhammad began a hunger strike to protest the marriage and his family soon joined him. The wedding was called off but the family had to leave the village and settle in Lahore. He has since set up Chanan Development Association, a non-profit organisation aimed at empowering young people in Pakistan. The Friends of UNFPA, an organisation that mobilises funds and action for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), recognised Shahzad’s important contributions in promoting women’s and youth rights by honouring him with the 2012 Award for the Health and Dignity of Women and Girls in a ceremony in New York on Thursday.