To celebrate the International Day of the African Child, on June 16th, 2016, several recent National Student Commonwealth Forum alumni, (from l-r) Isabella Orozco, Gillian Hollebone, James Myles, Ammani Hanafe, and Ana Paula Sanchez, had the opportunity of attending the launch of an exhibit “Girls Voices: Speaking out against Child Marriage”.

The event was held at the Global Affairs Canada building in Ottawa, and was hosted by The Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, in collaboration with the organization Girls Not Brides, that works with over 600 civil society organizations worldwide. Together, they seek to support, and empower communities in order to harmonize existing state and nationwide initiatives to end child marriage.

The exhibit presented images and untold stories of young girls from various parts of the globe who express how elaborately linked child marriage is to poverty, natural disasters, warfare, social infrastructures and education.

Several government officials and NGO guest speakers including (Nidhi Bansal, Marissa Kokkoros, Sarah Fountain-Smith, Marie-Claude Bibeau, David Morley), were present at the event. Discussions revolved around planning and protecting girls, increasing educational investments, ensuring flexible education with training for those already married, investments in reproduction health, and modifying social infrastructures.