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Michelle Obama, Melinda French Gates, and Amal Clooney Announce Collaboration to Support Adolescent Girls’ Education and Help End Child Marriage

The three girls’ empowerment champions made the announcement at an Obama Foundation Girls Opportunity Alliance event

Today, former First Lady and founder of the Obama Foundation’s Girls Opportunity Alliance, Michelle Obama, joined Melinda French Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Amal Clooney, co-founder of the Clooney Foundation for Justice, for an event in support of the Girls Opportunity Alliance’s Get Her There campaign. Launched on October 11, International Day of the Girl, the Get Her There Campaign is a global call to action to educate and empower adolescent girls around the world to reach their full potential. 

At the event, Mrs. Obama, Ms. French Gates, and Mrs. Clooney announced a collaboration between their respective organizations to advance gender equality and end child marriage—helping girls overcome barriers they face in their communities in order to reach their full potential. Child marriage remains a leading barrier to the advancement of adolescent girls, and according to Girls Not Brides, each year an estimated 12 million girls worldwide are married before the age of 18. A staggering number: one in seven girls in developing countries are married under the age of 15 and are often forced to drop out of school, if they are able to attend at all. 

“We created the Get Her There campaign to inspire everyone to get involved in our work—because we know that our entire world benefits when girls are educated and empowered,” former First Lady Michelle Obama said. “That’s why I am so grateful that Melinda and Amal—two of the world’s most compelling and influential leaders for gender equity—are teaming up with the Girls Opportunity Alliance to help remove the barriers that stand in the way of every girl getting the opportunities she deserves. The barriers these girls face are very real, but I couldn’t be more hopeful about what’s ahead in our work together to support them.” 

“In so many places, the moment a girl becomes a teenager, her options start to shrink. Often it means an end to her education or the beginning of a marriage she didn’t choose. That’s why it’s so important that advocates for women and girls pay special attention to this critically important time in a girl’s life,” said Melinda French Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “I’m honored to partner with Michelle and Amal—two unparalleled champions for gender equality—to support the amazing organizations around the world who are working to end child marriage, advance gender equality, and help girls everywhere reach their full potential.”

“I am delighted to be partnering with two formidable champions of gender equality to coordinate and scale our efforts to combat discrimination against women and girls. The Clooney Foundation’s mission is to wage justice—by removing legal barriers to girls’ education, combat child marriage, challenge ‘morality offences’ and overturn laws that perpetuate economic discrimination against women. Around the world, we challenge prosecutions that silence women and we trigger prosecutions that hold perpetrators of gender-based violence to account,” said Amal Clooney, Co-Founder of the Clooney Foundation For Justice. “But today, we see repressive regimes still able to crack down on women’s basic freedoms with impunity, and girls still fighting for their most basic human rights. And in too many places, women’s rights are in retreat. So it is important that we remain committed to the goal of unshackling half the world’s population. I am honored to be working alongside Michelle and Melinda in advancing this work and excited about the tremendous potential for progress through our collaboration.” 

The collaboration will enable the three organizations to further their efforts to empower young women around the world by supporting girl- and community-led groups working to end child marriage and applying proven approaches that enable girls to achieve their full potential. 

Specifically, they will:

  • Support champions and organizations that are working to end child marriage and advance gender equality.
  • Engage in joint advocacy on shared priorities to support young women’s empowerment, working to overcome the barriers they face to achieving their full potential. 
  • Work together to scale and expand each organization’s programming globally, to support emerging leaders and grassroots organizations worldwide and ensure that no girls are left behind.
  • Build on the Clooney Foundation’s work to strengthen the next generation of gender justice champions in Africa through fellowships, challenge discriminatory laws through the courts, and increase women’s access to justice through a network of ‘women for women’ legal aid clinics.
  • Grow the Girls Opportunity Alliance Network and Fund and its capacity to support additional community-based organizations that are working to break down the barriers that adolescent girls face around the world.
  • Build from new evidence and insights, including those generated by partners through the Child Marriage Learning Partners Consortium, on what is needed to enable girls to thrive.
  • Support the grassroots groups and advocates who have worked tirelessly for decades to end child marriage, like Girls Not Brides and the Girls First Fund.

Today’s event, which featured an on-stage interview with Obama, French Gates, and Clooney, will be included in an upcoming CNN special. 

About the Obama Foundation’s Girls Opportunity Alliance

The Girls Opportunity Alliance, a program of the Obama Foundation, seeks to empower adolescent girls around the world through education. Since 2018, the Girls Opportunity Alliance has worked to inspire, empower, and connect more than 4,000 leaders and community-based organizations who are working to support adolescent girls around the world; drive specific commitments through the Girls Opportunity Alliance Fund; and galvanize young people everywhere to take action in support of their peers. 

Follow @ObamaFoundation on Twitter and Instagram

About the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, it focuses on improving people’s health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, it seeks to ensure that all people—especially those with the fewest resources—have access to the opportunities they need to succeed in school and life. Based in Seattle, Washington, the foundation is led by CEO Mark Suzman, under the direction of Co-chairs Bill Gates and Melinda French Gates and the board of trustees.

Follow @GatesFoundation on Twitter and Instagram

About the Clooney Foundation for Justice (CFJ)

CFJ’s mission is waging justice to create a world where human rights are protected and no one is above the law. The Foundation operates in over 40 countries, providing free legal support to victims of human rights abuses, gathering evidence to ensure that perpetrators face justice, and engaging in strategic litigation to reform discriminatory laws. Building on the strong track record of Co-Founder Amal Clooney’s work to promote the rights of women and girls through the courts, CFJ’s Waging Justice for Women initiative uses data-driven legal advocacy to reform unfair laws and increase accountability for gender-based abuse. For more information please visit: www.cfj.org.

Follow @ClooneyFDN on Twitter and @ClooneyFoundationForJustice on Instagram

 

Photograph credit to “The Obama Foundation.” The photographs may not be manipulated in any way, and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, or promotions that in any way suggest approval or endorsement by the Foundation, President Obama, or Mrs. Obama without the Foundation’s prior written consent.