BBC Gender and Identity correspondent Megha Mohan and director Yousef Eldin visited Malawi for a special documentary as part this year’s BBC 100 Women season.

Mohan and Eldin, together with three of the world’s most high-profile humanitarians, Michelle Obama, Amal Clooney, and Melinda French Gates, met girls at risk from the global issue of child marriage, and some of the grassroots organisations trying to stop it.

12 Million Girls, airs on the BBC News channel and will be available on BBC iPlayer (UK only) from Saturday 9 December.

The visit follows a collaborative effort launched in 2022 by The Obama Foundation’s Girls Opportunity Alliance, the Gates Foundation, and the Clooney Foundation for Justice, aimed at ending child marriage.

Michelle Obama, attorney, author and one of the BBC 100 Women for 2023 says: “If we let one thing slip, it all just starts to unravel. In the United States we’re dealing with a rollback in reproductive rights, things that people thought they could take for granted… And a lot of it is because of the devaluation of women, and the belief that women don’t have choice and power over their own being. That’s what’s happening here.”

Ulanda Mtamba, Malawi’s country director for AGE Africa (Advancing Girls’ Education in Africa) and one of the BBC 100 Women for 2023 says: “We believe that when we educate just one girl, that one girl can be able to change her community and her society. By educating a girl we’d be able to break the cycle of poverty because this girl, be assured, will be able to transform her community, educate more girls and be a role model.”

Amal Clooney, human rights lawyer and one of the BBC 100 Women for 2023 says: “What’s the point of having a beautiful constitution that protects girls from child marriage if the girls who are the victims of this don’t know about it. So, we formed a network of mobile legal aid clinics that go out in a community and say to girls these are your rights, and if you need a lawyer for free to protect you, that’s what we are here to provide.”

12 Million Girls airs on BBC News on Saturday 9 December at 02:30 and 15:30 GMT and Sunday 10 December at 09:30, 18:30 GMT, and will be available on BBC iPlayer (UK only).


Pippa Considine

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