On July 22, activists, community leaders, civil society organizations (CSOs), governments, and international organizations will converge on London for Girl Summit 2014. IWHC staff will join them as we discuss how to end two of the most pressing human rights violations of our time: child, early, and forced marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM).
With 14 million girls married before the age of 18 every year and an estimated 125 million women and girls alive today who have been forced to undergo FGM, these practices expose women and girls to serious health risks and perpetuate a cycle of poverty for families, communities, and nations. While there is almost universal condemnation of these practices in national and global discussions, not enough is being done to actually stop them from happening in local communities. The Girl Summit is a chance to change the status quo and turn rhetoric into action. We already know what works to prevent and mitigate the harmful effects of these practices; what we need now is the political will and financial commitment to scale up effective programs.
The Girl Summit, hosted by the UK government and UNICEF, aims to secure substantial commitments from heads of state, foundations, and international organizations from around the world. We hope the Summit will bring much-needed financial and technical resources to the effort, as well as pledges from governments and civil society to work together in more strategic ways, including by working with girls themselves to ensure that all girls everywhere can live healthy and empowered lives. You can follow the Summit commitments online at: www.girlsummit2014.org.
Meanwhile in Washington, D.C., we are working with our partners in the Girls Not Brides USA coalition to pressure the U.S. government to develop a comprehensive strategy to end child marriage globally and to dedicate resources toward these efforts. The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 mandated the State Department to develop this strategy, and we hope the U.S. government will use the momentum of the Girl Summit to announce concrete details of how it plans to prioritize foreign development assistance and programs to end child, early, and forced marriage.
Girls Not Brides USA will co-host a Girl Summit satellite event on July 22 with the Center for Global Development and the UK Embassy in Washington, D.C. At this event, experts, nongovernmental organizations, and U.S. government officials will discuss effective strategies to end child marriage and female genital mutilation, and what the agenda should be moving forward. If you’d like to attend the D.C. event, RSVP here: http://www.cgdev.org/event/girl-summit-dc-2014.
Even if you can’t attend in person in London or D.C., we still need your voice! Join the #Lead4Girls campaign on social media and demand action. Use the sample tweets below or create your own messages using #Lead4Girls and #GirlSummit:
We can’t afford to wait any longer. This is a key moment to change the lives of girls. We need to let our government leaders know that we’re watching and we’re counting on them to do the right thing. Together, we can end child marriage and FGM within a generation.