Civil society calls for renewed action to end child marriage by 2030

Girls Not Brides – the global partnership to end child marriage, hosted the world’s biggest ever global meeting on ending child marriage in Malaysia. Progress to end child marriage must be accelerated, urged civil society organizations from around the world gathered for this grand event.

Almost 500 activists from around the world attended the three-day-long meeting in Kuala Lumpur. Including civil society and youth, along with representatives from governments, donors, religious networks, the UN and the African Union. Collectively, they called for renewed action to end child marriage, which affects 12 million girls globally every year.

World’s biggest global meeting on ending child marriage held in Malaysia * PHOTO: Girls Not Brides / Graham Crouch

Pakistani youth activist and International Children’s Peace Prize 2017 nominee Hadiqa Bashir, 17, started her organization Girls United for Human Rights after her family tried to force her into marriage aged 11. She said involving young people in efforts to address child marriage was “essential”.

“It’s young people who are affected by child marriage so if we’re going to change anything we need them to be part of the solution,” she said.

Over 650 million women alive today were married as children. Child marriage violates girls’ rights to health, education, and opportunity and exposes them to violence throughout their lives. Evidence shows that ending child marriage will catalyze global efforts to improve health, education and address poverty.

Women Deliver Young Leader S M Shaikat and Isatou are seen with Women Deliver Senior Associate Mariama Kabia at the GNB meeting. * PHOTO: SERAC-Bangladesh

Girls Not Brides is working to end child marriage, announced at the meeting on Monday that they have reached the 1000-member mark, and now have members in 97 countries around the world.

Mabel van Oranje, chair of Girls Not Brides, said: “Civil society organizations are crucial to ending child marriage, especially those working directly with girls and communities. At a time when space for civil society is shrinking in too many places, this meeting allowed those working ceaselessly on this issue to learn from each other, discuss successes and challenges, and plan next steps in our efforts to create a world in which every girl can decide whether, when and whom to marry.”

Youth delegates including Tasnia Dia from SERAC-Bangladesh are seen among others with the Princess Mabel van Oranje at the GNB Meeting in KL. * PHOTO: SERAC-Bangladesh

Participants at the meeting included African Union Goodwill Ambassador Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda, Pakistani women’s’ rights activist and winner of the US State Department’s International Women of Courage Award 2015 Tabassum Adnan, and delegates from as far afield as Afghanistan, Honduras, Kazakhstan, and Zimbabwe.

SERAC-Bangladesh attended the meeting with a number of delegates. S M Shaikat, Executive Director of SERAC-Bangladesh spoke at a panel discussion and described his experience working on the real ground in Bangladesh.


Some moments from Kuala Lumpur meeting.

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