What better way to say “I do” than by empowering girls to say “I don’t”

child bride india empowering women

It’s is International Day of the Girl on October 11th. So all businesses that support women and girls like CorkYogis are celebrating a huge new initiative – VOW.

At a moment of renewed drive to empower women and girls across the world, VOW launched today with a mission to put the reach and economic power of America’s $100-billion wedding industry behind the global movement to end child marriage by 2030.

VOW gives couples, companies and the public the power to join the movement to end child marriage globally. The new initiative has already secured commitments from leading companies — influential brands The Knot, Crate and Barrel and Malia Mills are among the first on board — to donate a portion of profits from products, experiences and wedding registries to local, on-the-ground organizations that stand up for girls’ rights and against child marriage.

Beyond the purchase of VOW-branded products and experiences, couples can broaden their commitment by selecting VOW as their preferred charity when they create their wedding registry with a brand partner. Direct donations can be made at www.vowtoendchildmarriage.org or by texting VOW to 44321.*

The initiative is the brainchild of Mabel van Oranje, an expert on the issue of child marriage, who leads the VOW Board with more than two decades of experience as a top global advocate for freedom, justice and development.

“A young girl is married somewhere in the world every three seconds — thrust into a relationship that she usually did not choose and often can’t escape,” said van Oranje. “Americans spend tens of billions each year saying, ‘I do,’ and VOW is about investing part of those funds in supporting girls to say, ‘I don’t.’ Every girl should have the right to choose if, when and whom she marries. We want to ensure that organizations working locally to end child marriage around the world have the resources that they need to have a real impact on the ground. I am absolutely delighted that partners in the U.S. wedding industry are stepping up to the challenge to make sure that girls can stay out of marriage and in school. I urge other visionary companies and couples who are planning to get married to join this important cause.”

Each year, a staggering 12 million girls are married before they reach the age of 18 — some as young as 8 or 9. That’s 23 girls every minute, who are robbed of their futures and their education, putting them at risk of violence, ill health and trapping them in poverty.

All funds raised by VOW go to the Girls First Fund. This unique fund champions local organizations working tirelessly to stand up for girls’ rights and against child marriage. Starting in 2019, the Girls First Fund will initially support local organizations in six countries with high prevalence of child marriage: Democratic Republic of the Congo, Dominican Republic, India, Nepal, Niger and Uganda.

I love this sort of initiative – practical ways to support women and girls to get out of slavery, poverty and inequality.

Please visit www.vowtoendchildmarriage.org and follow along at #vowforgirls to learn more about VOW.