12 August 2019
Girls Not Brides
|For Girls Not Brides, this year provided opportunities to both dramatically accelerate progress, and to take stock of areas where further action is needed. Across 2018, Girls Not Brides sustained international and national momentum and expanded the movement to embrace new actors crucial to its success. The following report provides a non-exhaustive overview of the key developments and achievements in 2018. Highlights of the year included:
The Partnership continued to grow and diversify, and tackle sensitive emerging questions
• Girls Not Brides marked an exciting milestone by welcoming our 1000th member in June (up from around 50 members in 2011).
• We hosted the largest meeting of actors working to end child marriage in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Around 500 activists gathered in June 2018 to align their work to end child marriage.
• We increased efforts to support and champion youth advocacy and leadership – including by launching a new youth activism training programme called ‘Stand Up, Speak Out’.
Girls Not Brides spearheaded innovative initiatives to raise critical funds for action in communities
• Girls Not Brides played a catalytic role in the Girls First Fund, a multi-million dollar funding mechanism for grassroots organisations and ‘VOW’, a fundraising and awareness-raising initiative, leveraging the multi-billion dollar US wedding industry to support the Girls First Fund.
Civil society drove national level action
• Girls Not Brides members and National Partnerships played a critical role in driving national-level progress, raising awareness, working with governments, and holding lawmakers accountable.
• It was particularly exciting to see increased interest in India to work in partnership to end child marriage, both at the State and national levels. Girls Not Brides Rajasthan became our first State-level partnership, and members in a number of other States are also setting up coalitions.
Global and regional momentum to end child marriage continued to grow
• The Girls Not Brides secretariat’s and members’ advocacy helped to shape the third resolution on child, early and forced marriage adopted by the UN General Assembly.
• We launched a new guide to support civil society and parliamentarians to use the Southern Africa Development Cooperation (SADC) Model Law on Eradicating Child Marriage and Protecting Children Already in Marriage.
• Girls Not Brides ramped up our work in Latin America and the Caribbean, started to build consensus in the region, and deepened relationships with key stakeholders, such as the Organization of American States.
Discussions and learning increased around the solutions and drivers of child marriage
• Our ‘learning series’ used webinars, social media and workshops to explore diverse themes, such as working with men and boys; engaging religious leaders; and changing social norms.
Other development sectors increasingly recognised the need to address child marriage in their efforts
• Throughout the year, Girls Not Brides engaged a range of sectors to highlight how they are impacted by child marriage and what effective solutions look like.
Progress made on ending child marriage in 2017 includes:
The Girls Not Brides Partnership continues to grow, diversify and strengthen
– By the end of 2017, Girls Not Brides had over 900 civil society member organisations in over 95 countries.
Governments in high-prevalence countries take action
– Afghanistan and Ghana launched national strategies/action plans to end child marriage.
– There were significant legal changes in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Lebanon, and Malawi.
National Partnerships are supported to be effective partners to their governments
– The nine official Girls Not Brides National Partnerships continued to strengthen their work and drive national change.
– New coalitions are forming in a number of countries and Indian states.
– Girls Not Brides held its first ever workshop for Francophone civil society coalitions, bringing together over 20 representatives from five emerging national coalitions in West and Central Africa.
– We developed a child marriage advocacy training module, and adapted and rolled it out in three country workshops.
Regional actors demand more from governments
– Following Girls Not Brides’ engagement and advocacy, the Organization of American States passed a resolution mandating its secretariat to address child marriage, and its Secretary General urged Member States directly to do more nationally.
– The West and Central Africa High Level Meeting on child marriage resulted in a common call to action and country-specific next steps being agreed by governments.
Girls Not Brides is driving the debate on the solutions to ending child marriage
– Girls Not Brides developed and updated resources on lessons learned from national strategies to end child marriage, child marriage in humanitarian settings, and the importance of a minimum age of marriage of 18. We also highlighted learning around innovative solutions to address child marriage, including around engaging religious leaders and using entertainment-education.
– The World Bank and the International Center for Research on Women published their landmark study on the Economic Costs of Child Marriage. Girls Not Brides had advocated for the study, provided feedback on its thematic briefs, and participated in the launch event.
Member organisations have increased capacity and opportunities to access funding
– Girls Not Brides brokered strategic fundraising partnerships for Girls Not Brides member organisations.
– We shared new fundraising support materials with members, including via a dedicated ‘fundraising month’ in August, and supported National Partnerships and coalitions to build their fundraising capacity and set up new collective projects.
Over the next five years, Girls Not Brides: The Global Partnership to End Child Marriage commits to supporting the implementation of target 5.3 of the new Global Goals: to end child, early and forced marriage by 2030. This commitment is in support of the Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health (2016-2030). We will continue to build a global movement, advocating for stronger UN resolutions and global and regional commitments, learning more about effective approaches, and pushing for increased funding towards efforts to end child marriage. We will support governments to develop and implement funded, cross-sectoral policies, programmes and plans to end child marriage that engage all ministries and stakeholders, including civil society, children and youth. We will also continue to encourage existing and potential donors to increase their funding commitments and to incorporate child marriage into existing programming (for example on education, health, gender equality and economic development). This commitment will be implemented from January 2016 to December 2020.
2016 was a landmark year for Girls Not Brides as we celebrated five years since our launch and developed the new 2017-2020 strategy for the Partnership. The Partnership grew to almost 700 member organisations by the end of 2016, and we continued to see global progress, such as through a new resolution at the UN General Assembly. Across the world, civil society shaped developments this year, from closely collaborating with the government on the national strategy in Mozambique; to challenging discriminatory laws in the High Court in Tanzania; and resisting threats to progress in Bangladesh. Within this context, Girls Not Brides supported and mobilised civil society efforts; acted as a hub of information; and shared and amplified members’ learning.
In 2016, a number of governments developed national strategies and action plans to end child marriage, often with the input of Girls Not Brides National Partnerships and civil society coalitions. The Girls Not Brides secretariat supported National Partnerships, providing them with specific training and tools to support their governance, national level advocacy, and hosting a National Partnership Workshop in November. Concentrated efforts at the national level were strengthened by developments at the global and regional level such as the adoption of the South African Development Community’s Model Law to End Child Marriage, which provides a robust reference point for existing and future legislation.
Throughout the year, Girls Not Brides also used high profile events and new resources to highlight the links between child marriage and topics such as education, health including RMNCAH, HIV/AIDS and humanitarian crises, putting the issue on the agenda of new communities and encouraging new multisectoral collaborations.