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FEATURE STORY

London Girl Summit calls for end to FGM and forced marriage

August 4, 2014

On July 22, 2014, the UK hosted the first Girl Summit, aimed at mobilizing domestic and international efforts to end female genital mutilation (FGM) and child, early and forced marriage (CEFM) within a generation. Voicing his support for the initiative, World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim explained why addressing these issues is crucial to the bank’s work towards eliminating extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity.

The health and welfare of many young girls around the world are being endangered by early marriages and FGM. UN figures estimate that 125 million women and girls worldwide have been cut – and that at least 30 million more will be at risk over the next decade. Recent reports by UNFPA and UNICEF suggest that more than one-third of girls are married before age 18.

The Girl Summit brought together community leaders, governments, international organizations and the private sector to mobilize efforts to address these troubling trends. Speaking at the event, UK Prime Minister David Cameron stressed that FGM and childhood marriage rank among the great development challenges of our time. The UK also announced a package of funding and actions to protect millions of girls in the UK and abroad from these practices.

In a video message for the event, President Kim urged nations to help adolescent girls live safe and productive lives: “As a physician, I recognize the terrible suffering these practices inflict on individuals, families and communities. As an anthropologist, I see them as rooted in social norms constructed over time, embedded in inequality, yet absolutely changeable. Addressing and ending these practices will not only spare millions of women and girls from suffering, it will also unleash their potential to lift themselves out of poverty and into healthier more prosperous lives.”

Watch President Kim’s video message:

At the summit, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation announced a new $4.2 million investment toward a unique, three-year research program to measure the economic cost of child marriage. The research will be led jointly by the International Centre for Research on Women and the World Bank to generate new global, regional and country evidence on the consequences of child marriage and its economic cost.