The Elders and Child Marriage

In 2007 Nelson Mandela initiated this group called The Elders. It stemmed from an idea floated to him by Peter Gabriel and Richard Branson from a discussion they had had regarding the traditional role of elders in communities worldwide.

This group is in effect a group of global elders – including Ireland’s own Mary Robinson, South Africa’s Desmond Tutu, the wonderful Graca Machel from both Mozambique and now South Africa, Jimmy Carter, Martti Ahtissari and many more.

Desmond Tutu says men have 'aided and abetted' child marriage, but believes the practice, endemic in some cultures, can be overturned. Photograph: Miguel Gomez/AP

I decided to post about them as they have in recent months focussed very strongly on the issue of child marriage. Tutu was recently quoted as saying that he intends to put as much energy into fighting this issue as he did in the fight against Apartheid.

“The statistics are shattering. If we do nothing about it, 10 million girl children under the age of 18 will have been married this year. You think: in a decade that’s 100 million.”

Tutu was speaking aththe launch of a Clinton Global Initiative GIRLS NOT BRIDES

Mary Robinson, on The Elders website said the following:   “For too long, we have all shied away from talking about child marriage. Some might be reluctant to interfere in what is seen as a family matter, others avoid the issue because it involves questioning cultural and traditional practices. We understand these sensitivities, but we don’t believe that’s an excuse.”

She is right. No excuses. Great initiative by The Elders and by the CGI.

Graca Machel spoke recently to the issue of tradition, this is what she has said:

‘People may say it is tradition, and traditions cannot change. But I know this is not true, traditions can change because they are made by people.’

2 responses to “The Elders and Child Marriage

  1. That’s great news! If a powerful group like that focuses its collective eye on this issue, then maybe some positive change will really happen. 🙂

  2. It is isn’t it Colleen – a lot of collective wisdom here.

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