The Wellbeing Foundation Africa Advances a Multi-Sectoral Approach at the Girls Not Brides Global Meeting
The Wellbeing Foundation Africa (WBFA) was a key stakeholder at the 2nd Girls Not Brides Global Meeting, which held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia from 25th to 27th June, 2018. During this important gathering, participants from all over the world showcased progress and interventions aimed at eliminating forced, early and child marriage (FECM), in line the Meeting’s four main objectives to connect, to learn, to inspire, and to align. Importantly, Girls Not Brides: the Global Partnership to End Child Marriage made sure that the voices of youth-led organizations were well heard, as well as those of community-based organizations (CBOs), civil society organizations (CSOs), and other grassroots activists. Further, donors and multilateral institutions shared insights on their progress, through their strategic initiatives and programs, mostly in multiple countries, addressing child marriage on several levels, including advancing girl child education, and providing incentives for poor families.
Represented by Dr Luther-King Fasehun, its Nigeria Country Director, WBFA attended sessions such as ‘Working with parliamentarians,’ as jointly led by the World Health Organization (WHO); ‘Multilateral organizations,’ which showcased the joint UNFPA-UNICEF Global Programme to Accelerate Action to End Child Marriage; ‘Working across multi-sectoral collaborations,’ where Dr Fasehun led conversations around the need for partners to place contribution over and above attribution, in their dealings for the eradication of child marriage; and the ‘Economic impact of child marriage,’ where the World Bank’s and the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW)’s stellar work was brought to the fore, for advocates to deliberate on how best to take the message to who matters most. WBFA also participated as a rapporteur in the ‘Sexuality and gender transformative programming’ session, where the great experiences of Youth Harvest Foundation (based in northern Ghana) and The YP Foundation (based in New Delhi, India) were highlighted to fellow participants from other parts of the world.
Among the many dignitaries present at the conference were Dr Venkatranam Chandra-Mouli of the World Health Organisation (WHO); Dr Anju Malhotra of UNICEF; Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen of Plan International; Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda of Girls Opportunities Fund, who also serves as the African Union Goodwill Ambassador on Ending Child Marriage.
Mabel van Oranje, Chair of the Board of Girls Not Brides, in her remarks commended the efforts of all participants, including WBFA for promoting advocacy to end child marriage in Nigeria:
"We need to translate commitments to action and ensure that our work at Girls Not Brides is taken to our home countries. We started this movement in Addis in 2011, and I'm so proud of you all, for how far we have grown. Over the last 3 days, we have put content on social media that has enjoyed a combined total of 10 million followers."
"We must not relent. Despite progress, 12 million girls are still getting married every year. We need to work to change this."
At WBFA, we continue to work, with increased support from our partners, to utilise community-based health promotion and provision, as well as a nuanced advocacy/policy strategy, including through girl child education, to bring the world close to the SDG targets of eliminating child marriage by 2030.
Girls Not Brides is a global partnership of more than 1,000 civil society organisations in 97 countries committed to ending child marriage and enabling girls to fulfil their potentials. Majority of member organisations, about 54 per cent, are in sub-Saharan Africa and are mostly youth-led. The Wellbeing Foundation Africa is a major partner and stakeholder of the Girls Not Brides global partnership.