The girl summit 2014 and our commitments
On 22nd July 2014 the UK government held a summit to rally a global commitment to end early marriage and FGM within a generation.
World Vision was proud to contribute to the summit. For decades we’ve been challenging early marriage and FGM through our programming and child protection work. Two youth advocates from Sierra Leone, Alice and Alfred (photo), attended the summit and took valuable lessons back to their community. Stella, our West Africa child protection adviser, also had the opportunity to present lessons we have learned to a variety of audiences including BBC Radio 4.
My sincere ask is for all governments in the world to rally behind the call to end FGM and early marriage in our generation.
- Alice, 16 years old, Sierra Leone.
At the end of the summit Justin Byworth, our then CEO, was proud to speak on behalf of Civil Society Organisations. We declared a list of our own commitments in the continued fight to end child marriage and FGM within a generation.
A year later, World Vision is delivering our Girls Summit commitments on many fronts:
We committed to pilot and increase innovative projects in new contexts which engage faith leader, men and boys to stop Child Marriage and FGM. This year we’ve worked to engage faith leaders, men and boys to join us to stop these practices. In India, we have piloted the ‘men care’ approach to challenge men on issues of child marriage. We’ve continued our work with Channels of Hope for Child Protection, catalysing Christian and Islamic faith leaders to speak out against these practices in their community.
We agreed to highlight children’s increased vulnerability to child marriage and other risks in disaster and conflict situations. To do this we’ve launched our new Framework for the prevention, mitigation and response of gender based violence in emergencies and fragile contexts highlighting these issues. We also continue to incorporate child protection into our new long-term Disaster Management strategy.
We said we would improve our life skills training to promote gender equality and awareness. We aim to equip girls and boys, and their peers, to advocate against child marriage and FGM. Our Peace Road Curriculum has been implemented in four more countries.
In 2014 we committed to closely monitor our effectiveness and impact through evaluations and contribute to building a new evidence-base. We have seen robust monitoring and evaluation through our child protection and gender work. Specifically, teams in World Vision Niger and World Vision Mali are able to check the impact of our programmes in child marriage & FGM in our communities. They can use this information to promote programmes and further our advocacy goals.
Our work to ensure more girls and boys are registered at birth has remained a clear focus. In November 2014 we released a new policy paper “Registering births to count every newborn, every child”. We have clear data of the number of children in our programmes that still need birth certificates and are working with our communities, using new approaches, to increase birth registration and to protect children.
We agreed to increase our resources and programming to create a protective environment for children and prevent child marriage and FGM. Through our anti-FGM work in Kenya we have strengthened our relationship with UNFPA/UNICEF. We have also reached agreements with both the Australian and the Kenyan governments to explore further funding and collaboration on new programmes.
Finally, we committed to improved partnerships on child marriage and FGM, including with national and global coalitions, faith leaders and civil society organisations. The number of partners we work with on issues of child marriage and FGM continues to grow. World Vision is involved with the Africa Coordination Centre for the Abandonment of FGM, we are working with Islamic Relief Worldwide to launch and roll out our Islamic version of Channels of Hope for Child Protection, and, of course, we continue to work with local level children’s clubs and child protection committees.
Child marriage - the facts
"I was married aged 13. I was happy in the day, when everyone was celebrating, but unhappy at night. I didn’t know the man and didn’t know about sexual things. I didn’t want to be alone with him and tried to fight him." Alem*, 15 years old, Ethiopia.
Every year, 15 million girls are married before they are 18 years old. That means 1 in 3 girls in the developing world are married by the age of 18, 1 in 9 are married by the age of 15. It’s estimated that if we don’t act now there will be 1.2 billion children married by 2050.
*Name changed to protect identity.
FGM - the facts
Worldwide, an estimated 100 to 140 million girls and women have gone through Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). In Africa alone there are 3 million girls at risk of FGM every year.
"I was both happy and sad when I found out I was pregnant. I had sickness, and I also lost hope for the future that day; I knew I would never get an education then." - Martha*, 17 years old, Ethiopia.
The impact of child marriage and FGM on the lives of young girls and women can be shattering and far reaching. Education is lost; girls who are married are far more likely to have to drop out of their schooling. The chances are that a girl who has undergone FGM or child marriage will very likely become pregnant at a young age. She is likely to experience difficulty in giving birth and problems after giving birth. A girl under 15 years old is 5 times more likely to die in childbirth than a woman between 20-24 years old. Child brides often come from poor families and go on to experience more domestic violence by their husbands. Ultimately, FGM and child marriage take away a girl’s chance to be a child. She is forced to grow up well before her time and in devastating circumstances.
*Name changed to protect identity.
Video - Girl Summit one year on
Shedding light on the progress DFID and civil society have made in ending child marriage in the two years following the Girl Summit in July 2014.
Researching the links between FGM and early marriage, including the dynamics and social drivers.
Our cutting edge report, looking at the links between fragility and early marriage.
A short briefing paper highlighting how our community work on tackling FGM can be applied here in the UK.
You can help girls living in fragile contexts who are at the most risk of early marriage and FGM by donating to Raw Hope.
Raw Hope is about protecting children in the most treacherous places on earth. These areas are described by foreign policy as ‘fragile contexts’. This is where a government cannot or will not act on its responsibility to protect the human rights of its population. These areas also experience unacceptably high maternal and child mortality rates.
Children living in fragile contexts can suffer unbearable experiences. These include harmful traditional practices, such as female genital mutilation and early marriage. Widespread child exploitation, such as rape and child trafficking, are also common. Many are forced to work as child soldiers, or are used as child prostitutes against their will.
Together, through Raw Hope, we can protect vulnerable children by offering them lifesaving support and care; and work towards bringing rehabilitation and stability through peace-building in the volatile areas they live in.