03.10.2016 -

Round Table on Child, Early and Forced Marriage on the occasion of the International Day of the Girl Child

On 3 October, UNESCO (the Division for Gender Equality and the Global Education Monitoring Team) and the Permanent Delegation of Canada to UNESCO co-organized a Round Table on “Education and Gender Equality: The Perfect Partners for Development - Reflections on child, early and forced marriage – effects on school drop-outs.” During the event, the 2016 Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report Gender Review was also launched.

The Round Table was part of UNESCO’s 2016 Programme to mark the International Day of the Girl Child that would culminate with an exhibition entitled, Girls’ Voices: Speaking Out Against Child Marriage, from 10 to 14 October. The exhibition tells the untold stories of girls at risk of child marriage who are standing up for their rights, and the community members advocating for change alongside them. The opening of the exhibition will take place on October 11 at 6 p. m. in Corridor X – XI.

Moderated by Saniye Gülser Corat, Director of the Division of Gender Equality of UNESCO, the first part of the event aimed at reflecting on the fundamental link between gender equality and education, with a specific focus on the impact of child, early and forced marriage on education prospects for girls. It featured the opening speech by Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO; a video message from Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, First Lady of Canada; and presentations by Aaron Benavot, Director of the GEM Report; Lakshmi Sundaram, Executive Director of “Girls, Not Brides”; Andrew Silver, award-winning American Director and Producer; and Vivian Onano, partnerships Manager at SEED Project and Global Youth Ambassador at WaterAid.

Watch the first part of the event here.

The second part of the event was moderated by H.E. Elaine Ayotte, Ambassador and Permanent Delegate of Canada to UNESCO. It brought together Nora Fyles, Head of the United Nations Girls Education Initiative (UNGEI); H.E. Shahidul Islam, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Bangladesh to France, Permanent Delegate of Bangladesh to UNESCO; H.E. Ruchira Kamboj, Ambassador, Permanent Delegate of India to UNESCO; and H.E. George Imbanga Godia, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Permanent Delegate of Kenya to UNESCO, in an interactive discussion about the successes and challenges related to combatting child, early and forced marriage in Bangladesh, India and Kenya.

The speakers shared their thoughts on the role of education in changing social norms that contribute to gender based violence and early marriage and in enhancing women’s leadership. They also presented the actions taken by their respective country. A short video-testimony of a young woman from Mali demonstrated the intergenerational benefits of girls’ education and how she gained literacy skills through the UNESCO-UNFPA-UN Women Joint Programme on Empowering Adolescent Girls and Young Women through Education.

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