On Saturday September 23, 2017, Lupita Nyong’o and Freida Pinto took the stage at the Global Citizen Festival in New York to speak out on gender equality, urging 60,000 Global Citizens gathered in Central Park and millions watching around the world to take action to level the playing field for girls and women.
The actors and advocates - both co-hosts of the event - were joined by United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, the President of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo and Pakistani Global Citizen Youth Advocate, Uzma Gul.
The Global Citizen Festival is a free, ticketed, advocacy-driven event, where music fans and activists earn tickets by engaging with various social and economic development causes. In the two months leading up to Global Citizen Week, Global Citizens took over 1.6 million actions urging leaders to tackle extreme poverty, fight inequalities and promote gender equality. This helped drive 29 commitments, 55 announcements and 13 calls to action, that totaled $3.2 billion, which are set to affect the lives of 221 million people.
UN Women is the UN organization dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women. A global champion for women and girls, UN Women was established to accelerate progress on meeting their needs worldwide. Addressing the Festival, Ms. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka Phumzile and Uzma Gul urged the international community to do their part to end child marriage.
“Unless we take action, 280 million girls are at risk of being brides by the time they turn 18. Chances are, they will have to marry a stranger, sometimes old enough to be their father. chances are, they will have children while they themselves are still children. Critically, men and boys must take responsibility to say no more. Please support UN Women’s HeforShe movement and say: “No more child marriage!”— Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director, UN Women; Under-Secretary-General, United Nations
“Global Citizens, keep tweeting, emailing and calling on your leaders to Level the Law and end child marriage for a better future for all!” — Uzma Gul, Global Citizen Youth Advocate, Pakistan
The President of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo, committed onstage to end child marriage by implementing the National Strategic Framework on Ending Child Marriage in Ghana (2017-2026). The President also re-committed to make secondary school free and universal through the Child and Family Welfare Policy (CFWP), ensuring that poverty will no longer be an excuse for parents to keep their girls out of school and forced into early child marriages. The government has committed $100 million dollars towards this policy, which is expected to benefit at least 400,000 students. The President ended his speech by announcing that with the effective implementation of policies and laws to empower girls, this will lay the foundation for a woman to be elected as the President of Ghana in the future.
“As President of Ghana...I am committed to putting in place policies and programmes aimed at improving the development of the girl-child in Ghana. I am equally committed to ensuring access to a minimum of senior high school education…[and] mobilizing support towards ending child marriage in Ghana and in the whole of the African continent.” — Nana Akufo-Addo, President of the The Republic of Ghana; co-chair of the UN Sustainable Development Goals Global Advocates; 2017 Gender and Development Champion for the African Union
Ms. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka also signed the Declaration to Level the Law, a commitment to championing the reform or repeal of laws that discriminate against girls and women, and the enactment of measures to outlaw discrimination and gender-based violence in order to achieve gender equality by 2030. An estimated 90 percent of countries worldwide still have at least one discriminatory law in their legal frameworks.
In March 2016, Global Citizen and CHIME FOR CHANGE launched the global campaign Level the Law for girls and women all over the world. Global Citizens have since taken over 508,000 actions to eradicate gender discriminatory laws.
UN Women presented its “Roadmap for Substantive Equality: 2030” earlier this year. This initiative aims to repeal or amend laws that discriminate against women and girls, ensure that laws are grounded in gender equality and women’s human rights, and are fully implemented by building new partnerships and strengthening existing collaborations among international and regional organizations, governments, parliaments, the justice sector and civil society.
Global Citizen and CHIME FOR CHANGE are pleased to partner with UN Women to Level the Law and tackle harmful practices around the world, including child marriage.