Girl Summit 2014
22 July, 2014
The first event of its kind in the UK, Girl Summit 2014 takes place today. Co-hosted by the UK government and UNICEF, the summit is dedicated to confronting child, early and forced marriage (CEFM) and female genital mutilation (FGM) in the UK and across the world.
Led by Prime Minister David Cameron, Home Secretary Theresa May and International Development Secretary Justine Greening, the event will draw together some 700 participants from heads of state, NGOs and women who’ve suffered such violence first hand.
UNICEF figures indicate that around one in three married women globally who are aged between 20 and 24 were child brides, with the highest rates of child marriage found in South Asia – a region where nearly half of girls are married before they reach 18. A practice which harms girls’ development, child marriage can lead to early pregnancy, halted education, social isolation, limited career opportunities and heightened risk of domestic violence.
The summit will also focus on FGM, a procedure which can trigger horrific long term implications for girls’ health, ability to have children and psychological state. It is estimated that 125 million women and girls have suffered FGM, whilst the figure in England and Wales is 66,000.
The Girl Summit 2014 is an opportunity to build momentum behind the campaign against these harmful practices, giving a voice to survivors. Girls must have the freedom to control their bodies and their choices. Today, representatives from government, private sector, faith communities and civil society are coming together to share best practice and rally a global movement to end the physical, psychological, sexual and financial abuse that comes with these practices. A Summit ‘compact’ will outline commitments from actors around the world, with a mass social media campaign looking to stimulate support amongst the younger generations.
Women’s rights and gender are critical themes forming part of Wilton Park’s work. This year, we contributed to the flagship Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict, co-chaired by Foreign Secretary William Hague and Angelina Jolie, Special Envoy for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. We also recently hosted a conference in Cordoba on Women in the private sector in the Middle East and North Africa and are looking forward to an event addressing women-led business in October. This conference will explore the contribution of women to the global economy, looking specifically at women’s leadership in business in developed and emerging economies. It seeks to identify innovative strategies for promoting entrepreneurship and female empowerment.