The partners recognize that bringing an end to harmful traditional practices affecting girls and women will require action at the global, regional, national, and local level. This Commitment therefore brings together a donor focused on girls' and women's rights, a global partnership of almost 300 organizations based in 50 countries focused on child marriage, and two NGOs with a deep and proven commitment to working directly with communities in Africa to address these practices.
Girls Not Brides is a global partnership dedicated to bringing an end to child marriage around the world. The Partnership is focused on facilitating learning and coordination among organizations addressing child marriage; raising awareness of the scale and impact of child marriage among policy-makers and the public; and mobilizing all necessary support - political, financial and other - to end child marriage.
AMREF and Tostan will focus on a proven approach to tackle the problem of FGC. Rather than forcing the community to stop the vice, both AMREF and Tostan seek to engage with its partners on the ground, especially the communities, so that they can make a collective, informed, and coordinated choice to abandon the practice, so that no girl child or family is disadvantaged by this decision. Respecting the ceremonial value of the ceremony, the transition of the status of a girl into womanhood, and to avoid a culture clash with the community, AMREF has come up with Alternative Rites of Passage (ARP) through the Unite for Body Rights Project. With this approach, girls can become women without the physical 'cut'. This engagement is materialized through trainings that AMREF gives to the community to sensitize them on the dangers of FGC. UPL has contributed 2,581,055 ($3,360.000) to AMREF to fulfill its mission to put an end to this harmful practice of FGC amongst the Masaai communities in Kenya and Tanzania. Results have shown that denouncing FGC comes with a greater value given to education for girls. Masaai are starting to promote education as the first strategy for development of their communities, also for girls, rather than marrying them off at an early stage. Addressing FGC means delaying marriage and avoids child marriage among the Masaai.
Tostan has developed a holistic, human rights-based, and participatory training approach that incorporates local and cultural traditions that aim to change expectations that a girl or woman must undergo FGC to be a respected member of the local society. UPL has contributed with SEK 1,500,000 ($230.000) to Tostan to fulfill its mission to engage communities to implement positive social transformation in the respect of human rights.
Change on the ground with respect to harmful practices such as child marriage and FGC will ultimately take place only if there is a concerted effort to address these issues at the global, regional, national and local levels. While parents, communities and the girls themselves are the ultimate agents of change, structural factors, such as the lack of schools or legal frameworks, can make it almost impossible for them to move away from these practices. Work within communities therefore needs to be supported by advocacy activities at a broader level.
Girls Not Brides
In this commitment, Girls Not Brides will focus on advocacy at the global, regional and national levels. Specific activities include:
Supporting national partnerships: A number of Girls Not Brides members have been coalescing into national partnerships to address child marriage collectively at a country level. The Girls Not Brides secretariat will encourage the setup and expansion of these national partnerships, and support their work, especially within the West Africa region.
Child marriage in new global development frameworks: Girls Not Brides will push for the explicit inclusion of the needs and rights of adolescent girls in any new post-2015 development framework and associated specific goals. Girls Not Brides will advocate for the inclusion of child marriage as a concrete indicator to track progress, since it is a well-defined and measurable data point, with clear links to a range of interconnected development and human rights outcomes. If there is no progress made towards ending child marriage, many other development goals will also not be met.
Adoption of a resolution on child marriage by a relevant United Nations body: The global community came together in December 2012 to adopt a resolution at the United Nations on FGC, bringing significant visibility to the issue and leveraging new funding and programmatic commitments. There is a similar need for increased international commitment on child marriage. Girls Not Brides will work with partners and member States at the national, regional and global levels to identify and work through the most appropriate UN mechanisms to push for the adoption of a resolution committing to ending child marriage.
AMREF in Tanzania and Kenya
Phase 1: Preparing for scale-up. Startup, selection, and analysis of the chosen communities, knowledge exchange between Kenya and Tanzania, education of peer-educators (6 months).
Deliverables: multicultural project team, education material, peer-educators in project areas.
Phase 2: Scale-up. Implementation, setting up forums to discuss the FGC and the alternative rites of passage, organizing courses for girls on sexuality and reproductive health and rights, planning and organizing of specific alternative rites of passage (24 months), follow up of girls who participated in the alternative rites of passage
Deliverables: 42 alternative rites of passage organized for 3,500 girls. In addition 16,000 girls, young men, parents and elders educated on sexuality and reproductive health and rights
Phase 3: Multiplying. Ensuring multiplier effect to other areas where FGC is practiced, sharing experiences with national and international stakeholders, and sustainability of the project (continuous process) in project areas.
Tostan in Gambia
Phase 1: Teaching basic literacy skills, microcredit management, reinforcing recently acquired knowledge on human rights, health and hygiene.
Deliverables: Workshops with 1250 adult and adolescent participants in 25 communities.
Phase 2 and 3: Training local Community Management Committees to apply the knowledge and skills from the workshops to build capacity for community-led development. Local workshop participants commit to share their knowledge in their own community and in surrounding villages and thus becoming leaders to change expectations and behavior.
Deliverables: 25 committees with 425 democratically chosen members, of which at least 225 are women. Awareness raising campaigns, inter-village meetings to share experiences and knowledge.
Phase 4: Locally organized public declarations to abandon FGC, marking the beginning of lasting commitments to change.
Deliverables: 25 interconnected communities change expectations that girls and women must undergo FGC to be a respected member of society.
The United Postcode Lotteries (UPL) commit, together with its partners AMREF, Tostan and Girls Not Brides, to work towards bringing an end to harmful practices affecting girls and young women, especially child marriage and female genital mutilation/cutting, with a specific focus on East and West Africa. Approximately 14 million girls are married every year before they turn 18, and there are 400 million women aged 20-49 today who were married as children. Yearly, an estimated 3 million girls are undergoing the practice of female genital cutting (FGC). A total of 140 million women and girls worldwide have been affected by FGC.
Child marriage, a formal marriage or informal union where at least one partner is below age 18, directly impacts the health, education, poverty and equality of the girls themselves, their children and their communities. The practice hinders the achievement of 6 of the 8 Millennium Development Goals.
FGC comprises all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. FGC involves removing and damaging healthy and normal female genital tissue, and hence interferes with the natural function of girls' and women's bodies. The practice causes severe pain, has several immediate and long-term health consequences including difficulties in childbirth and is a severe violation of the right to bodily integrity. The practice is also closely linked to girls dropping out of school and child marriage. Ending this harmful practice is closely connected to Millennium Development Goal 3: Promote gender equality and empower women.
Both child marriage and FGC are traditional practices that can result in severe negative consequences for girls. In certain regions, the practice of FGC identifies a girl as being ready for marriage, and can be seen as a precursor to child marriage. The two practices share a common root: a fundamental lack of equality between girls and boys, and a sense that the only role that girls and women can play in society is that of wife and mother. Both practices are often deeply rooted in the practices and social norms that are prevalent in many communities. Traditions and culture are an important, invaluable part of a community's identity and should be cherished. However some of these age-old practices have harmful consequences that do not represent the values, beliefs and principles of the communities. These traditions are not immutable; when harmful, they can and should be challenged.