ICRW’s Suzanne Petroni Presents at Inaugural U.S. State Department Event on Child Marriage

Article Date

02 October 2015

Media Contact

Anne McPherson

Vice President, Global Communications email [email protected]

ICRW’s Suzanne Petroni, senior director, gender, population and development participated in a special event held by U.S. State Department Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues Cathy Russell on Thursday, September 24. The event, the first the ambassador’s series on Women and Foreign Policy, convened experts, activists, academics, development practitioners, and policymakers to discuss what can be done to end early and forced marriage, from programming and research to policy and diplomacy.

Petroni gave powerful remarks on the issue of child marriage, highlighting ICRW’s groundbreaking research on solutions to end this harmful practice, as well as promising new findings that that will offer new insights and catalyze greater attention to this important issue. She told the audience that, while many parents may marry off their daughters in order to “protect their virginity” or to help them avoid sexual violence, “child marriage is not preventative; it is a violation of girls’ human rights.”  

Also at the event, Susan Markham, senior coordinator for gender equality and women’s empowerment at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), announced a cutting-edge child, early and forced marriage (CEFM) resource guide developed by ICRW and Banyan Global, which will enable USAID staff working across issues and countries to better understand how to address CEFM. This comprehensive resource guide will assist USAID to effectively integrate evidence-based CEFM prevention approaches across its development efforts.

The event also featured the filmmaker of “Difret” who screened scenes from the film, which will soon be released in the United States. From executive producer Angelina Jolie-Pitt, “Difret” is a powerful film based on the true story of a young girl who challenges Ethiopia’s tradition of kidnapping girls and forcing them into marriage. 

A video recording of the event is available here.