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The UK is driving a major new global push to end child and forced marriage across the world, International Development Secretary Justine Greening announced today at the UK’s first Girl Summit.
With the goal of ending child marriage in 12 of the most highly affected countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, Britain is working with the UN to deliver a scheme to help 6 million girls worldwide escape child marriage.
The £25 million announcement comes as UN agencies, survivors, charities, community groups, faith leaders and front-line professionals gather at the Girl Summit in London, hosted by the Prime Minister David Cameron, to end child and forced marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM) in a generation. Momentum is gathering pace, with well -known figures – from Desmond Tutu and Malala to Stephen Fry – already pledging their support.
Justine Greening said:
“Education, ambition and freedom of choice should be available to every single girl and no one deserves to suffer such serious harm by those closest to them, whether as a result of FGM or by being coerced into an unwanted marriage.
“We cannot dismiss these practices as something happening in far off places, or someone else’s problem. Right now, in towns and cities up and down the UK, there are girls at risk without the same rights as their friends. That has to change.
“We should never turn a blind eye to these issues. At the Girl Summit we are coming together to say enough is enough: we must end these practices once and for all. The time has come to not only break the silence on these issues, but to take a stand.”
The Department for International Development’s new child marriage programme will:
- increase access to vital services to prevent and respond to child marriage – such as more child protection, education and health services;
- establish local community-based programmes to stop girls marrying young. This will include setting up community engagement projects to change their expectations;
- work with governments and communities to strengthen laws, policies and resources to prevent child marriage in the first place; and
- collect detailed and robust evidence about how to stop child marriage, such as support for civil registration systems to better monitor the age at which girls get married.
This announcement comes alongside a wider package of action and funding to protect millions of girls at in the UK and overseas from female genital mutilation and forced marriage. These include a £1.4 million FGM Prevention Programme, launched in partnership with NHS England to help care for survivors and safeguard those at risk, and new legislation that will mean parents can be prosecuted if they fail to prevent their daughter being cut. Child and forced marriage affects 14 million girls a year, some are as young as eight years old. Meanwhile 125 million women worldwide are estimated to be living with the consequences of FGM and 30 million girls are at risk in Africa alone over the next decade. Notes to editors
The Girl Summit is hosted by the UK Government and UNICEF and brings together UN agencies, survivors, charities, community groups, faith leaders and front line professionals with the aim of mobilising domestic and international efforts to end female genital mutilation (FGM) and child, early and forced marriage (CEFM) within a generation. It is taking place at the Walworth Academy in South London.
Sign the pledge to end FGM and CEFM at www.GirlSummitPledge.com and for more details about the summit visit https://www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/girl-summit-2014
The following people have already got behind the campaign: Malala, Jemima Khan, Jackie Chan, Philip Pullman, Alison Moyet, Freida Pinto, Christy Turlington, Stephen Fry, Dawn O’Porter, Jennifer Hudson, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Desmond Tutu, Cat Deeley, Melinda Gates, Mia Farrow, Lorraine Kelly, Lorraine Kelly, Martina Navratilova and Sir Roger Moore.
FGM is a deep rooted social practice where women and girls, including newborns in some cases, have partial or total removal of the external genitalia for non-medical reasons. 125 million women worldwide are estimated to be living with the consequences of FGM and 30 million girls are at risk in Africa alone over the next decade. The vast majority of practising communities are in 29 African countries, with 74% of women aged 15-49 in Ethiopia having been cut, 88% in Sierra Leone, and 98% in Somalia.
The UK is the biggest international donor to efforts to tackling FGM investing up to £35 million over 5 years https://www.gov.uk/government/news/uk-to-help-end-female-genital-mutilation
Forced marriage is where one or both of the spouses has not consented to the union, but is being coerced or pressurised into it. It is different to arranged marriage. 14.2 million girls under the age of 18 marry each year - 39,000 each day.