Children’s charity World Vision UK today committed to scale up its work to protect girls from the fear of child marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM).
Speaking at the Girl Summit 2014 in London, World Vision UK CEO Justin Byworth told delegates during the main plenary the charity would further empower children at grassroots level – a strategy vital to ending FGM and early marriage.
“Building on the results we’re seeing with our work in 27 of the most affected countries affected by harmful traditions, World Vision will continue to innovate and demonstrate what works through our unparalleled grassroots presence. Crucially, we will put the voices of girls and boys at the heart of our approach,” he said.
Chosen by the UK government to represent civil society organisations during the ground breaking summit, co-hosted by DFID and UNICEF, Mr Byworth said engaging faith leaders was critical in influencing social norms and bringing change.
He told delegates, which included top level international government and civil leaders: “Engaging faith leaders of all creeds to tackle harmful practices is also central to help strengthen systems to protect girls and boys.”
Scaling up informal community systems like children’s and mother’s clubs to national frameworks and government services was part of his summit pledge.
Tackling FGM and forced marriage during and shortly after humanitarian disasters was also vital to protect children, said Mr Byworth. “None of us can do this alone. We need to work together across governments, UN and civil society to build on the momentum that has led to today’s summit,” he said.
He added: “Together, we must change the lives of millions of girls who are not here today to tell of their future hopes and dreams, those too often blighted by FGM and early marriage. We must unite to realise our vision of a world where every child grows up free from fear of FGM and child marriage.”