01 July 2020

Partner Spotlight: Five Questions With Girls Not Brides

The COVID-19 pandemic has jeopardized hard-won gains in women’s, children’s and adolescent health. Though women and children are at less risk from the virus itself, the knock-off effects—such as limited access to vaccines and sexual and reproductive health resources—are projected to do immense harm. Every Woman Every Child believes that women and children must be placed at the center of COVID-19 recovery plans. In that spirit, we have launched a new “Five Questions” feature to feature partners who are working to make sure that no one from these vulnerable groups is left behind.

1. What is your organization’s primary concern with the global pandemic as it relates to women, children and adolescents?

We know that girls and women—particularly amongst the poorest and socially marginalised groups – will likely be most affected by the pandemic. Increases in the (unpaid) burden of care, gender-based violence, adolescent pregnancy and school dropout during lockdown, coupled with the higher proportion of female workers in the informal sector, make girls and women more vulnerable to economic shocks.

The COVID-19 pandemic is already having a devastating effect on families, communities and economies around the world, and the impact is most acute in countries with fragile health, social welfare, communications and governance systems. As efforts are directed towards containing and responding to the pandemic, many years of progress – including towards ending child, early and forced marriage – have come under threat. Early estimates indicate that the pandemic will cause 13 million more child marriages by 2030, with 4 million of these predicted to happen in the next two years. Our mission to end child marriage – and our work as a global partnership – has never been more important.

2. What concrete actions are you taking to advance/safeguard the goals of the EWEC Global Strategy during this time, specifically for ending all preventable deaths among women, children and adolescents by 2030?

Girls Not Brides: The Global Partnership to End Child Marriage is contributing to EWEC Global Strategy by supporting civil society organisations around the world in their work to end to child marriage.  

Girls Not Brides is a global partnership of more than 1400 civil society organisations from over 100 countries committed to ending child marriage and enabling girls to fulfil their potential. Members are based throughout Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Europe and the Americas. We share the conviction that every girl has the right to lead the life that she chooses and that, by ending child marriage, we can achieve a safer, healthier and more prosperous future for all.

Over the last year, Girls Not Brides has acted to drive, catalyse and support change at all levels. Some of our achievements during the last year include increasing our work with member organisations and partners in Latin America and the Caribbean and in Francophone Africa; strengthening members’ advocacy and campaigning skills; and exploring how different actors can better work together to address child marriage in humanitarian contexts. Girls Not Brides has also started deepening its engagement in key geographies, to help speed up change in countries with high rates of child marriage. 

3. How are you supporting national COVID-19 response and recovery efforts, particularly in ensuring that women, children and adolescents remain at the center of such efforts?

Girls Not Brides member organisations around the world are using a range of strategies to diversify and adapt their work to end child marriage because of the pandemic. Many organisations are working overtime to provide essential food, water, hygiene and care packages in marginalised areas. They have increased advocacy and innovation to keep child marriage and issues affecting girls at the centre of the response. They are working with new governmental partners in Ministries of justice and security, providing updates on the situation in remote areas, carrying out budget and policy advocacy, and promoting new and progressive ways to reach those most in need. Many have sought to raise awareness of child protection through diverse media, including print and radio, and direct community outreach such as loudspeakers. Member organisations that are able to have shifted towards online education, with some even offering girls data support so that they can continue learning. Many are struggling with accessing emergency funding, or reallocating already limited funds. 

To best support our members, we have produced a dedicated brief on COVID-19 and child marriage and weekly blogs summarising useful resources, organised a global survey and multiple webinars and calls with member organisations, and shared relevant and timely funding opportunities.

4. What impact will your organization have on the lives of women, children and adolescents, and how are you measuring this?

In the face of COVID-19, Girls Not Brides remains committed to supporting civil society in its efforts to end child marriage. Our member organisations work at all levels, from continuing to work in communities to help girls and their families, through to advocating at the global level to ensure girls are not left behind in this most challenging time. As a global partnership, we will continue to work with governments, the private sector, donor bodies and diverse stakeholders to keep girls at the centre of our responses; now and into the future. 

We will work together to make sure that girls at risk of child marriage and married girls don’t get left behind during the response to—and recovery from—the pandemic.

5. Who (partner organizations) are you working with to achieve this?

Girls Not Brides is a global partnership of more than 1400 civil society organisations committed to ending child marriage and enabling girls to fulfil their potential. We also work with a range of diverse stakeholders and partners, such as being part of the Every Woman, Every Child coalition.