End January, The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Dutch Embassy in Mali together with the three child marriage alliances (Her Choice, More Than Brides and Yes I Do) visited project sites of Her Choice and the More than Brides Alliance in Ségou and Bamako, Mali. Rich discussions took place with our local partners, representatives of civil society, strategic partners such as Girls not Brides, UNFPA and UNICEF. But foremost it was a chance to meet with our young GALS change agents.‘Many of us girls drop out after basic school level, but because of MTBA program in our areas we have all become champions in GALS in our respective communities. SWe are all peer educators, we sensitize our peers on practices that compromise our rights such as early marriage, girls’ schooling and gender based violence’ says a GALS spokesperson during a stakeholder meeting hosted by MTBA’s local partner WALE on the Topic of child marriage.
Underlining the importance of empowering girls and women in all ways possible, the director of MTBA’s partner A SORO says that ‘ very often only a person with financial means has decision-making authority over others within the family, even within the community. For this, strengthening women’s – economic- position is essential, and for this again to happen, it is necessary to accentuate women’s leadership’.
Next to empowerment of girls, MTBA works hard on girl education. On this topic, the coordinator of MTBA’s partner FAWE mentions that ‘although the enrolment of children, especially girls, is satisfactory, maintaining the min school is still not easy; this would need additional focus during the remainder of the programme’.
MTBA wants to empower all girls. To this extend, MTBA in Mali has developed an inclusion strategy for people with disabilities. During the meeting, the representative of the School for the Deaf and Dumb also took the floor, speaking of current concerns but also sharing the commitment to contribute to the challenges of young people.
MTBA has a continuous dialogue with religious leaders, involving them in all of the project strategies, which many of them support. During the visit, the Imam shared the vision on early marriage from a religious perspective by saying ‘in the Koran and the Bible there is no fixed age for marriage but according to the two holy books marriage takes place when the partners are mature and willing. So this proves that girls should be married at a minimum of 18 years of age’.
Peer Educators lead the debate

In the afternoon the visit continued with a very lively session led by peer educators at the Sido Sonikoura school .5 girls and 4 boys very eloquent animated a session called “Marriage is not child’s play”, Being Young how to protect oneself from STIs. The session, in Bambara and French, treated types of STI’s, symptoms, transmission and protection. It was followed by an exchange that allowed to understand the leadership that young people have in the implementation of the project, and by using this peer to peer strategy, the impact the project has on life skills. It also touched upon the difficulties they sometimes face being perceived as disruptive, hindering plans of parents who want to marry their children off early.

GALS and popular art combined in a banner

here we have the illustration of a Gals graph:
The GALS happy vision tool that helps communities formulate a vision on a happy life transformed into an artistic expression by local artists. These artists use the local cotton and clods of soil mixed with antibiotic plants called “bassilan yiri” for artistic expressions on cotton for decoration and clothing.
The banner served as a backdrop for the theater on the advocacy of the champions and the Djandjigui folk animation of women. In 2020 the team will continue to combine Gals graphics and SRHR messaging with local arts, integrating popular culture as a means of expression on the rights of women and girls and ending child marriage.

During the first week of October, Oxfam in Pakistan’s partners @Bedariin Punjab and @Indus Resource Centre (IRC) in Sindh hired local artists to paint wall murals outside schools and government offices. The initiative, which was powered by Oxfam’s ‘Marriage: No Child’s Play’ project under @More Than Brides Alliance (MTBA),was part of Oxfam in Pakistan’s campaign on the plight of Child Abuse, a social evil our country grapples with every day. Students, teachers and onlookers immediately gathered to witness their towns covered in beautiful paintings, with thought-provoking messages on child abuse, rights of children, dangers of early child marriage and the importance of girls education. Click the link to watch the campaign.

MTBA was present at the International Conference on Population on Development (ICPD) to present our Call to Action for governments to support work that:

  • Put girls at the center
  • Considers what alternative pathways exist for girls and expands viable options
  • Supports social norm change related to child marriage and the value of girls

Please read our full briefing paper here.

If you want to read more about the outcomes of this years Summit please click here.

The More than Brides Alliance, (Save the Children Netherlands (lead),Oxfam Novib, Simavi and Population Council, in partnership with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands) empowers  young women and girls to make informed choices about their sexual, reproductive health and rights and to pursue alternative life paths in an enabling environment. What better way to expose our results, introduce our methodologies ánd the people we work with than at Women Deliver the world’s largest conference on gender equality and the health, rights, and wellbeing of girls and women?

In the first week of June, MTBA will have its presence in Vancouver, Canada. During the three days of the conference, the attendees can expect enriching presentations on the work we do in Niger, Mali, India, Malawi and Pakistan. Not only will they receive firsthand information from our partners in-country, they also have the opportunity to interact with girls’ champions who are changemakers in their own countries and communities. Through music, theater and storytelling performances attendees will be inspired to give girls a voice and a choice.

Follow us on twitter to receive the latest updates on our rich programme at booth 765 or download the programme.

#VoiceandChoice #MTBA # WD2019

Across the globe, the MTBA alliance organized events that gathered decision makers, fathers, mothers and many young people. Standing up against child marriage and, confirming the importance of participation of women and girls in decision making at all levels in society. Have a look on what was happening in India!

In Bihar, SIMAVI partner BVHA organized a session in  which our girl champion shared her experiences (picture 1) working on the topic of child marriage, while in Majahulia a street play was presented (picture 2). In Odisha, VHAI together with many women and girls made a pledge against child marriage (picture 3) and organized a signature campaign to make the area child marriage free (picture 4)

Social and Behavior Change Communication (SBCC) engages and supports people to shift norms, change behaviors, and amplify the voices needed to address the persistent development challenges the world faces today:The 2019 Social and Behavior Change Communication Conference focusing on francophone Africa, is organized to better understand what works in shifting social norms, changing behaviors and in amplifying the voice of those who have most at stake in the success of development efforts.The conference will take place in Abidjan, Ivory Coast between 25 and 27 February.

The More than Brides Alliance will present their successful work creating a safe and non-violent space for young people to discuss sexual reproductive health and rights . In Mali, communication on sexual health issues between parents and children is very limited because of traditional practices that limit intergenerational exchanges and children’s participation in decision-making. To inform and empower young people, well-trained peer educators use fun edutainment methodologies such as slam, dance, theatre to spread information, empower youth and start a dialogue with parents.

Title of presentation: Marriage Decision-Making, A Family Affair

Presenters: Saskia van Veen and Ronald van Moorten (Oxfam Novib / More Than Brides Alliance)

Date: 6 September 2018

Time: 15.30 – 17.00

Location: Oxfam Novib, Mauritskade 9, the Hague

Short description: Oxfam Novib will share the results of their formative research on the role that social norms currently play in their programme communities in Pakistan. Detailing the main social norms found surrounding marriage decision-making processes and their programmatic response.

L’éducation sexuelle complète, un engagement à tous les niveaux pour une information juste et éclairée des adolescents et jeunes.

Du 25 au 27 Juin 2018, a eu lieu la 2ème réunion mondiale de « filles pas épouses » à Kuala Lumpur (Malaisie). Plus de 480 personnes provenant des 5 continents étaient présentes à cette rencontre, essentiellement des organisations membres des réseaux nationaux « filles pas épouses », le système des Nations Unies, l’Union Africaine, des fondations et organisations d’enfant et de jeunes. Cinquante-huit sessions d’échange ont eu lieu durant les 3 jours ainsi que des séquences de présentation de stratégies à travers des posters et des discussions bilatérales.

Une des sessions portaient sur « l’éducation sexuelle complète : encourager l’égalité des genres, renforcer l’autonomie des jeunes et mettre fin à la violence basée sur le genre ». Cette session animée par des représentants de l’OMS, l’UNFPA, UNICEF et UE a permis de partager quelques expériences de mise en pratique de l’éducation sexuelle complète au sein des politiques d’éducation nationale. Il faut reconnaitre que l’introduction de l’éducation sexuelle complète dans l’enseignement rencontre beaucoup de défis en lien même avec l’appropriation de la thématique par les enseignants et leur capacité d’en discuter ouvertement dans les classes mixtes et pour des communautés ou les questions de sexualité restent encore taboues. En outre il faut reconnaitre que dans certains pays, les enseignants sont les auteurs de certains comportements des filles qui les mettent à risque (notamment les grossesses précoces).  Il est nécessaire donc de mettre un accent  particulier sur l’implication politique afin que l’Etat puisse inclure l’éducation sexuelle dans le curricula aussi bien des enseignants que des élèves.

En outre, avec  les nouvelles technologies qui permettent l’accès des adolescents et jeunes à des informations sur la santé sexuelle et reproductive (SSR), ces derniers ont des informations parfois erronées sur la SSR qui ne leur permettent pas de prendre des décisions responsables et éclairées. L’Education sexuelle complète doit donc non seulement prendre en compte l’implication du système scolaire, des parents à domicile mais surtout les autorités politiques afin de  contrôler/filtrer les informations auxquelles les adolescents et jeunes ont accès. L’éducation sexuelle complète est un processus qui implique l’ensemble des parties prenantes responsable de l’éducation des enfants et adolescents afin de leur donner les informations nécessaires et justes leur permettant de prendre des décisions responsables sur leur santé sexuelle et reproductive.

C’est dans ce contexte que le programme MTBA au Mali a mis l’accent sur le renforcement des enseignants pour l’intégration des questions de santé sexuelle et reproductive des adolescents dans le programme, la communication entre les pairs à travers les pairs éducateurs, la réalisation de séances de discussion intergénérationnelle, la promotion de la communication parent/enfant à travers les radios de proximité.

Elaboré par :

Aissata TRAORE, Coordinatrice Pays Mali de More Than Brides Alliance, participante à la rencontre mondiale « Girls not Brides » du 25 au 27 Juin 2018 en Malaisie.

You can watch this gripping documentary here.

This clip, showcasing the edutainment work of our Malawian partner YONECO, was presented during the Girls Not Brides Meeting, that took place from 25-27 of June in Malaysia. The More Than Brides Alliance hosted a panel presentation on our educational work, using entertaining methods in Pakistan and Malawi, which was attended by Princes Mabel, the Board Chair of the Girls Not Brides Global Partnership. Simavi facilitated the session, together with Simavi’s partner YONECO, Oxfam Novib and their partner Bedari.