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Jun 1, 2018

Survivors Speak Out

Hello Too Young to Wed supporters!

We are so grateful every day for the support of each and every one of you, especially these last few weeks as we have heard from so many following the incredible success of the visit of two of our Nigerian scholarship recipients, former Boko Haram brides Ya Kaka and Hauwa. As we shared in our last report, these brave young women, featured in our 2017 multimedia piece "Child, Bride, Mother: Nigeria," traveled to the United States in March for a series of events in Washington, D.C., and New York City, and were the guests of honor at TYTW’s Inaugural Gala on International Women’s Day.

During their time in Washington, Hauwa and Ya Kaka were welcomed by over three dozen members of Congress at bipartisan events held in both the Senate and House of Representatives. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Susan Collins (R-ME), and Representative Frederica Wilson (D-FL) hosted the girls in their respective Houses and offered them an opportunity to speak directly to our lawmakers, sharing their stories of abduction, escape, loss, and survival, and personalizing the terror that Boko Haram introduced into their lives. During meetings at the Department of State, Ya Kaka and Hauwa were able to provide vital information to staff members working to provide relief to the areas impacted the most – letting these individuals know what services and programs would be the most beneficial to others like themselves.

Hauwa and Ya Kaka’s trip continued in New York City, where they participated in several panel discussions at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women and met with representatives of the United Nations Population Fund and UNICEF. Sharing their stories at these events and in the media, including an interview with PBS Newshour, brings their message to a larger and more global audience, garnering additional support for the efforts needed to help survivors create better lives for themselves. We hope to partner with these organizations to develop programs which will identify the needs of survivors like Ya Kaka and Hauwa and ensure that help is on the way.

We are excited to share that these meetings resulted in the recent introduction of a bipartisan Senate resolution condemning the actions of Boko Haram and urging the United States government to work quickly and effectively to enact measures to defeat Boko Haram and to provide much-needed survivor support to the girls who have suffered so much at their hands. A similar resolution was introduced in the House of Representatives.

TYTW’s mission is to protect girls’ rights and end child marriage. One of the best ways we can accomplish both is by empowering girls to become advocates for themselves and for others like them. Hauwa and Ya Kaka’s visit to the United States was the next step in their journey and, with your help, we can take them even further. We are planning our next Tehani Photo Workshop to take place in Northern Nigeria, where Ya Kaka and Hauwa will act as mentors for other Boko Haram survivors as they experience the healing power of art as therapy, learn coping techniques to manage their trauma, and are empowered to become role models within their communities and in the fight against child marriage.

How can you help? To support Hauwa, Ya Kaka, and the thousands of girls still missing in Nigeria, please contact your representatives to ask that they add their names to the proposed resolutions - let them know they have your support as we seek to get these resolutions passed. And keep TYTW in mind as you plan your charitable giving this spring. With every donation, we move closer to being able to provide our next workshop to deserving girls around the world, and with your help, we are confident that we will soon be reporting from Tehani Photo Workshop #3!

Mar 2, 2018

Empowering survivors on International Women's Day

Hauwa and Ya Kaka, two courageous young women who had been abducted by Boko Haram and forced into early marriage and motherhood, arrived in the United States this week and are beginning their journey towards effecting international change through grassroots advocacy.  Their spirit and determination inspire us, and we are thrilled to be honoring them at our inaugural Too Young to Wed gala event, to be held on March 8th, International Women’s Day, in New York City.

We are pleased to share the invitation to our gala with you, our supporters.  This event will be a celebration of girl empowerment, embodied by these brave young women who have traveled across the world to raise their voices and speak out not only against the tragedy of child marriage, but in support of those who continue to be torn from their families, the thousands of girls still missing, and those who have been lucky enough to return home.  We hope to host our next Tehani Photography Workshop with these girls in Northern Nigeria.

We hope you can join us on International Women's Day as we honor Hauwa and Ya Kaka and take another step forward in our fight to end child marriage.  For those who cannot attend, we encourage you to participate in our silent auction.  

As always, we thank you for your support!

Feb 15, 2018

2017 highlights and 2018 plans

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As a bright new year begins, Too Young to Wed (TYTW) would like to thank you for your tremendous support throughout 2017, our biggest year yet for helping child brides share their stories with the world to inspire people everywhere to act to help end early, child, and forced marriage, and to protect girls’ rights.

Back in January 2017, TYTW founder Stephanie Sinclair highlighted the dangerous lives of girls in the developing world as part of National Geographic’s powerful "Gender Revolution" issue.  Her photo of nine-year-old Aarti from the series was named as one of the magazine’s Best Pictures of 2017.  That same month, The New York Times featured our groundbreaking transmedia project on Nigerian teens who had escaped captivity and forced marriage at the hands of Boko Haram.

TYTW’s devotion to advocacy through storytelling continued throughout the year in global publications and a variety of film festivals and photography exhibits, the largest being the inaugural exhibition in the new gallery space atop Paris’ Grande Arche de la Defense.  For four months, the awe-inspiring gallery showcased larger-than-life TYTW prints, including one of three Boko Hara survivors, which hung like massive tapestry from the ceiling, giving the girls an inescapable presence in the room.  Several TYTW images are also part of an exciting new exhibition called Women Photograph Women, which opened at the end of December at the Centro Internazionale di Fotografia in Palermo, Italy.

In August, Sinclair and several TYTW supporters traveled to Maralal, Kenya, for our second Tehani Photo Workshop, named for an eight-year-old bride in Yemen.  The five-day workshop, generously supported this year by our friends at Canon USA, provides child marriage survivors an opportunity to learn basic documentary photography skills, and also helps girls acquire tools to manage their trauma, express themselves, advocate for girls’ rights, and become mentors in subsequent workshops and in their communities.

In November, images shot by participants and mentors from this year’s workshop were included in the month-long World Press Photo exhibit in Washington, D.C., sponsored by Lightscape D.C.  The exhibition also included several of Sinclair’s TYTW images from her 2017 International Women’s Media Foundation’s Anja Niedringhaus Courage in Photojournalism Award.  The workshop participants’ stories were also featured in The New York TimesRefinery29, and National Geographic's Instagram page, reaching tens of millions of viewers worldwide as the year concluded.

Your generous support also funded TYTW’s outreach program, which included renewing educational scholarships for girls in Nepal and Kenya, and founding new ones in Nigeria.

We are thrilled to share the news that two of our scholarship recipients, Hauwa and Ya Kaka, who were also featured in last year’s NYT piece, will be traveling to the U.S. in March for a series of events that will culminate in TYTW’s first gala, celebrating their courage in speaking out about their experiences and their dedication to creating better lives for themselves.  Prior to the gala, the girls will meet in Washington, D.C., with all 22 women of the U.S. Senate to share their stories, and then, while in New York City, they will participate in several panels at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.  We are so excited for them to see part of the United States and to bravely use their voices on behalf of the thousands of other girls like themselves, many of whom remain trapped in marriages they cannot escape. 

We cannot stress it enough: TYTW’s wildly successful year, and the exciting events that we have planned for this year, would not be possible without your support.  We deeply appreciate your efforts to help us empower these brave young women and the thousands of girls just like them around the world.

If you are looking for charitable giving options in this new year, please consider keeping Too Young to Wed in your plans to help us protect girls’ rights and end child marriage. 

Wishing you a happy and healthy 2018!

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