Meet Lakshmi Sundaram
Each year, 15 million girls are married under the age of 18. Marriage is usually devastating for the well-being of these girls, and it also holds back the development of their societies. Despite this, very few people were talking about the issue, especially on the global stage, even five short years ago. Child marriage was a taboo subject. There were community-based organizations working to address the practice but they were working in isolation, without the resources or funding to support their work, and often without any recognition. In 2011, Girls Not Brides: The Global Partnership to End Child Marriage was set up to address this isolation, and to help spur a global movement. Today, Girls Not Brides brings together over 750 civil society organizations across more than 90 countries, who are all committed to working together to create a world free of child marriage.
Child marriage is part of my own family history – my grandmother was married at 13. Now I have a small son and a daughter, and I am determined to do my part so that they can grow up in a world where men and women are equal. I’ve seen how child marriage can hold women back, and it is heart-breaking to talk to girls whose dreams were cut short because they became wives and mothers much too young. But I’ve also seen how, when girls and women are empowered, they can change the world. Child marriage may have been a reality for generations. But it is so exciting to see how change is happening, through the work of amazing activists around the world: by working together, we can break the cycle of violence, poverty, and inequality. And that is a huge motivation for me.
Click here to learn more about Girls Not Brides.