Moni Begum advocates at UNGA to stop child marriage

DHAKA : Moni Begum, a 16-year-old girl, returned to Dhaka on September 30 after attending United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) where she advocated to stop child marriage and improving access to health care for every mother and child, reports BSS.
At the UNGA, Moni advocated for ending child marriage with her slogan #LetHerGrow. “Instead of getting married in their teens, girls should be encouraged to grow and educate themselves because they have immense potential in the future of Bangladesh.”
“They need the support of the society and their families to grow with equal opportunity. If we (girls) can grow, we can do better but for that we need the commitment and accountability from world leaders and the community,” said Moni at the assembly in front of the delegates from across the globe.
“Moni voiced millions of children of Bangladesh at the UNGA. She was bold, enthusiastic and outspoken to communicate the aspirations of her peers to the leaders of the global community.” Dr Ishtiaq Mannan, Health, Nutrition and HIV/AIDS, Director of Save the Children, told a press conference at Dhaka Reporters Unity (DRU) here.
Adviser of Advocacy, Health, Nutrition and HIV/AIDS of Save the Children Belal Uddin, among others, was present at the press conference.
Moni Begum is a 10th grader in Sultanpur Girls’ High School, lives in Kulaura, Sylhet. She was the first Bangladeshi child advocate for ending child marriage and improving access to healthcare at the UNGA, which she attended in New York this September. Based on a rigorous assessment process, she was selected to represent Bangladesh at UNGA from over a pool of hundred beneficiaries of a project implemented by Save the Children in partnership with Dhaka Ahsania Mission and Bangladesh Pediatric Association.
‘Sixty-six percent of the girls are married off before their 18th birthday and that makes Bangladesh one of the top three countries in the world that is heavily burdened with child marriage. The effects of child marriage is multi-dimensional and is causing adverse effects to the brides, the mothers, the families and hence the nation.
‘The ill-effects of child marriage remain unchanged as it causes teenage pregnancies, maternal and newborn deaths and malnutrition, school drop outs, uneducated mothers, domestic violence and finally a loss to the social capital.
Moni met UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon twice in two different events. Ban Ki Moon, a few years ago, visited a community clinic in the area that Moni comes from. Moni met the honorable prime minister of United Kingdom David Cameron, honorable president of Columbia President Juan Manuel Santos along with US Secretary of State, John Kerry. Moni also had the opportunity to listen to Malala Yousafzai’s speech addressing the importance of education for a better world.
Moni met national and international delegates from all over the world such as UNICEF’s Executive Director Anthony Lake, President of the General Assembly Mogens Lykktoft, Nelson Mandela’s wife Graa Machel, Margaret Chan, Amina Mohammed, Norwegian Prime Minister Solberg, Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, President of Kenya Uhuru Kenyatta, Italian Prime Minister Renzi, HE Ms Peng Liyuan, First Lady of the People’s Republic of China, the Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla and other world leaders.
She was in New York from the 20th to 28th of September, 2015 and had undergone trainings in Dhaka and New York before attending the multiple international discussions.


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