Even in the 21st century, marrying for love still is not an accepted fact of life. Over 700 million women married before their 18th birthday. That amounts to 15 million girls every year, meaning an abrupt end to their youth. Not acceptable, says Girls Not Brides, an organisation committed to stop child marriages since 2011.
Girls Not Brides is a worldwide alliance
Girls Not Brides is a world-wide partnership. About a thousand organisations in over 95 countries cooperate with a common goal: putting a stop to child marriages within one generation. The organisations involved with Girls Not Brides work in all kinds of sectors such as health, education, human rights and humanitarian aid and range from groups operating at local level to major international organisations.
Child marriages have a devastating effect
Because child marriage has a devastating effect on the lives of millions of girls. For instance, the marriage usually results in the girls having to drop out of school, many get pregnant within a short time. A child marriage can have life-threatening consequences in such cases. Complications during pregnancy and giving birth are the leading cause of death for girls between the ages of 15 and 19.
Princess Mabel of Orange and The Elders
Girls Not Brides started in 2011 and was set up jointly by Princess Mabel of Orange and The Elders. The Elders is an independent group of world leaders committed to peace and human rights. The Elders was founded by Nelson Mandela and Mabel of Orange was his first executive director from 2008 until 2012. The Elders comprises distinguished members such as Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Kofi Annan, Ban Ki-Moon, Jimmy Carter and Gro Harlem Brundtland, Norway's first female prime minister. Martti Ahtisaari, who received the Geuzenpenning in 2008, is also a member of The Elders.
Theory of Change
There is no simple solution to stopping child marriages. Girls Not Brides has developed the Theory of Change for that reason. The Theory of Change. Four strategies are central here. Empowering girls and make them assertive (empowerment); mobilise families and communities; offering assistance and support to both unmarried and married girls; making and implementing good laws and policy. These four strategies are interrelated, these are all connected and reinforce each other.
Terre des Hommes pakt kindhuwelijken aan
Terre des Hommes tackles child marriages in countries such as India, Bangladesh and Tanzania. We lobby to raise the legal minimum age for marriage, stimulate girls to (continue to) have an education, give information about the dangers of child marriages and encourage girls to join girls' clubs to make them more assertive. In Bangladesh we help to give voice to child brides to get out of the appalling conditions they are living under.
Girls Not Brides Netherlands
In 2016 thirteen Dutch participants of Girls Not Brides convened to establish Girls Not Brides Netherlands. Terre des Hommes is one of the participating organisations. Girls Not Brides Netherlands wants to share knowledge about child marriages and keep it on the Dutch political agenda.
Working towards worldwide commitment
Ever since it was established, the world-wide partnership Girls Not Brides and its members have worked tirelessly to make sure child marriage is placed on the agenda world-wide, and stays there. Many national, regional and local governments are more aware of the harmful impact of child marriage; they also offer support to girls in order to provide them with a different future. Moreover, many countries have taken steps to improve their legislation against child marriages; some of these countries have also started campaigns against these practice. The aim is now to stop child marriage by 2030, as was set out in the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
As of 1987, the Geuzenpenning was awarded to various organisations and persons. The Geuzenpenning is awarded as a tribute and support to contemporary freedom fighters and human rights activists. The Geuzenpenning was awarded before to people such as Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt (2004), Tunisian human rights lawyer Radhia Nasraoui (2013), Swedish human rights activist Thomas Hammarberg (2014) and to organisations such as Free Press Unlimited (2015) and MOAS (2016). Last year the Geuzenpenning was awarded to Alice Nkom and Michel Togué, two lawyers in Cameroon who are committed to help arrested gays and lesbians.