UNA-NY Special Panel

Ending Global Child Marriage

Welcome Remarks

Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation
The Netherlands

Member of Parliament for Compton–Stanstead
Government of Canada


The Netherlands
Girls Not Brides, Founder and Chair

U.S. Representative to the United Nations

Assemblywoman, New York State

Too Young to Wed, Founder and Executive Director

Moderated by

UN Women, Deputy Executive Director
Assistant-Secretary General of the United Nations



Monday, September 19, 2016

6:00-8:30 p.m.
There will be a reception following the program

Netherlands Mission to the UN
666 Third Avenue (bet. 42nd and 43rd Streets)
19th Floor
New York, NY 10017

Registration for this event is now CLOSED.

Child marriage is a human rights violation

Despite laws against it, the practice remains widespread, in part because of persistent poverty and gender inequality. In developing countries, one in every three girls is married before reaching age 18, and one in nine is married under age 15.

Child marriage threatens girls' lives and health, and it limits their future prospects. Girls pressed into child marriage often become pregnant while still adolescents, increasing the risk of complications in pregnancy or childbirth. These complications are a leading cause of death among older adolescents in developing countries.

Ending child marriage requires action at many levels. Existing laws against child marriage should be enforced, especially when girls at risk of child marriage, or who are already married, seek protection and justice. And where it is not yet the case, the legal age of marriage should be raised to 18. But laws only provide the framework for action against child marriage. Practices people deem acceptable are unlikely to disappear through legislation alone.

Governments, civil society and other partners must work together — to ensure girls have access to education, health information and services, and life-skills training. By working together, their measures will lead to healthier families, higher levels of gender equality and, in turn, stronger societies and more vibrant economies. No society can afford the lost opportunity, waste of talent, or personal exploitation that child marriage causes.

We invite you to join us for this special panel with five passionate and extraordinary women who are each contributing their own vital efforts to end child marriage.

Photographs by Stephanie Sinclair/Too Young to Wed



Lilianne Ploumen is currently the Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation in the Rutte-Asscher government, in the Netherlands.

In 1983, while still at university, Ms. Ploumen became a community outreach worker in the Crooswijk area of Rotterdam. Two years later she joined the Institute of Psychological Market Research (IPM), working in the statistics department and as a research project leader. IPM focuses on research-based consultancy.

In 1995 she founded Ploumen Projecten, an organization specializing in market research and innovation for commercial and non-profit clients. In the same year, she also began working as a fundraising coordinator for Mama Cash, an international fund supporting women's initiatives, going on to become director of the organization from 1996 to 2001.

From 2001 to 2007 Ms. Ploumen worked for the development organization Cordaid, first as head of quality and strategy and later as director of international programs.

She was Chair of the Labour Party (PvdA) from October 2007 to January 2012.

Lilianne Ploumen previously held the position of Vice Chair of the Evert Vermeer Foundation, and was a member of the Labour Party's South-North Committee (advising on international cooperation).

She has also been a board member of feminist organization Opzij and Women Inc. and member of the Stop Aids Now! supervisory board.

Ms. Ploumen holds Master's Degrees in Social History (1988) and Strategic Marketing Management (1992).

She is married, and has two children.


The Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau was elected as the Member of Parliament for Compton–Stanstead in October 2015, and a few weeks later, she was appointed Minister of International Development and La Francophonie by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Before entering politics, Minister Bibeau began her career at the former Canadian International Development Agency. She went on postings to Morocco and Benin. After settling down with her family in Quebec's Eastern Townships, she became a successful businesswoman and was actively involved in her community. 

In her capacity as Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, Minister Bibeau has a mandate to refocus Canada's international assistance to help the poorest and most vulnerable people, and support fragile states. In May 2016 she launched the International Assistance Review to determine how best to fulfill her mandate. This review calls for consultations with Canadian and international partners, as well as civil society and interested individuals, particularly women and youth, both in Canada and in developing countries. Later this year, Minister Bibeau will deliver a new five-year plan to Cabinet.

Minister Bibeau is calling for actions and programs geared to the education and empowerment of women and girls, whose rights she defends unfailingly. She places women and girls among the top of her political action priorities. The Minister currently has a seat in the High-Level Advisory Group for Every Woman Every Child, an initiative put in place by the UN Secretary-General. She also heads up Canada's strategy for implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development objectives both here at home and around the world.

Helping Canada exercise its leadership on global health issues, she played a key role in ensuring that our country will host the Fifth Replenishment Conference of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria in Montréal, Quebec, in September 2016.

Minister Bibeau ardently defends the idea of linking economic growth with the fight against climate change. With this in mind, she plans to help the most vulnerable communities become more resilient through a green and sustainable economy. She is placing considerable attention on providing access to drinking water and the responsible management of this precious resource.

Finally, in light of the conflicts gripping the planet, Minister Bibeau intends to fight for the protection of civilians and humanitarian workers. In the House of Commons she strongly underscores the importance of respecting such humanitarian principles as humanism, neutrality, impartiality and independence.

Minister Bibeau's partner is Bernard Sévigny, Mayor of Sherbrooke. She has a 17-year-old son, Mathieu.


The Netherlands

A global advocate for freedom, justice and development for two decades, Mabel van Oranje is the initiator and chair of Girls Not Brides: The Global Partnership to End Child Marriage, a global partnership of more than 600 civil society organisations from over 80 countries committed to ending child marriage and enabling girls to fulfil their potential.

She is also co-founder and the executive chair of the European Council on Foreign Relations. She is a member of the (advisory) boards of the Coalition for the International Criminal Court, Crisis Action, Global Witness, the Malala Fund, the Open Society Foundations and The Elders.

In 1993, Mabel founded the European Action Council for Peace in the Balkans and was its CEO until 1997. In 1997, she joined the Open Society Foundations in Brussels as Executive Director, becoming OSF's London-based International Advocacy Director in 2003. From 2008 until 2012, Mabel was the first CEO of The Elders.

Mabel helped found the Dutch foundation War Child (1995), the global NGO coalition 'Publish What You Pay' (2002) and the Independent Commission on Turkey (2004). She has been actively engaged in the fight against HIV/AIDS and in global efforts that led to the establishment of the International Criminal Court in 2002.

In 2005, the World Economic Forum named Mabel one of its Young Global Leaders. In 2014, she received a Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship and the John Diefenbaker Defender of Human Rights and Freedom Award for her work with Girls Not Brides.


Ambassador Isobel Coleman was confirmed by the Senate as U.S. Representative to the United Nations for UN Management and Reform on December 16, 2014 and sworn in to her post on December 19, 2014. Ambassador Coleman brings strong management and reform experience to her position, having spent nearly a decade as a management consultant with McKinsey & Co. As a McKinsey partner, she worked with a wide range of Fortune 100 companies on strategy, risk management and business restructuring. She also worked in a pro-bono capacity with public institutions such as the New York City Department of Education. Over the past twenty years, she has served on the boards of numerous non-profit organizations.

Prior to joining the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, Ambassador Coleman was a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) in New York, where she directed CFR's Civil Society, Markets, and Democracy program. Her research and writing focused on the political economy of the Middle East, democratization, civil society, economic development, educational reform, and gender issues. She is the author and co-author of numerous books and articles. In 2011, Newsweek named her one of the "150 Women Who Shake the World."

A Marshall scholar, she holds a BA in public policy and East Asian studies from Princeton University and MPhil and DPhil degrees in international relations from Oxford University. A longtime resident of the New York area, Ambassador Coleman is married with five children.


Assemblywoman Amy Paulin has served the 88th New York State Assembly District (Scarsdale, Eastchester, Tuckahoe, Bronxville, Pelham, Pelham Manor, and parts of New Rochelle and White Plains) since 2001. She chairs the Assembly Committee on Energy, and serves on the Committees on Education, Higher Education, and Health.

A full-time legislator, Assemblywoman Paulin annually ranks among the state's most successful lawmakers. Her diverse legislative agenda includes state government reform, children and families, domestic violence, sex trafficking, education, health care, animal welfare and gun control. As Chair of the Assembly Committee on Energy, Assemblywoman Paulin has worked to encourage renewable energy and ensure our electricity grid is reliable.

To date 171 of her bills have been signed into law. One of her most important legislative accomplishments was writing and sponsoring the bill that eliminated the statute of limitations for rape.

Assemblywoman Paulin has a long, distinguished record of activism in public policy and community issues. Prior to her election to the Assembly, Paulin served in a number of capacities, including Executive Director, My Sisters' Place; Member, Scarsdale Village Board; Founder and Chairwoman, Westchester Women's Agenda; President, Westchester League of Women Voters; Vice President, NY State League of Women Voters; Citizen Member, County Board of Legislators' Special Committee on Families.

Recently she has been honored by the Federated Conservations of Westchester County, NYS Camp Directors Association and named NYS Legislator of the Year by the American Institute of Architects (AIA). Among other citations and recognitions, her honors and awards have included being named New York State Legislator of the Year by the National Organization of Women of New York State, the Spirit of Independence Award from Westchester Disabled on the Move, an Ally Award from New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault (NYSCASA), Vision of the Community from the Scarsdale Teen Center, the Metropolitan Library Council (METRO) award for outstanding and dedicated service in support of libraries, and being named a Leader in the Fight against Domestic Violence by the New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NYSCADV).

The Assemblywoman was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. She is a graduate of the State University of New York at Albany and holds a Master's degree and has completed doctoral course work in Criminal Justice from SUNY-Albany. For over thirty years she and her husband, Ira Schuman, have lived in Scarsdale where they raised their children Beth, Sarah, and Joey.


Stephanie Sinclair is the Founder and Executive Director of Too Young to Wed, whose mission is to protect girls' rights and to end child marriage.

She is also a photojournalist represented by National Geographic Creative. Based in Brooklyn, New York, she is known for gaining unique access to the most sensitive gender issues and human rights around the world. Sinclair graduated from the University of Florida with a B.S. in journalism and an outside concentration in fine art photography. After college, she went to work for the Chicago Tribune, which sent her to cover the start of the war in Iraq. She later moved to Iraq and then to Beirut, Lebanon, covering the region for six years as a freelance photographer. She contributes regularly to National Geographic, the New York Times Magazine, Time, Newsweek, Stern, GEO, and Marie Claire, among others.

Sinclair was recently awarded the Alexia Foundation Professional Grant, UNICEF's Photo of the Year, and the Lumix Festival for Young Photojournalism Freelens Award for her extensive work on the issue of child marriage. She also earned the 2008 CARE International Award for Humanitarian Reportage for her essay, "A Cutting Tradition: Inside an Indonesian Female Circumcision Celebration." Sinclair's other honors include the Visa D'Or from the 2004 Visa Pour L'Image photography festival in France, as well as a first place in World Press Photo and the FiftyCrows International Fund for Documentary Photography's 2004 Central Asia and Caucasus Grant for her work on women's issues in Afghanistan. Sinclair earned another World Press Photo award for her coverage of the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon and was invited to be part of the prestigious 13th Joop Swart Masterclass organized by World Press Photo.

The Chicago Bar Association's Herman Kogan Meritorious Achievement Award 2000 was presented to Sinclair for her involvement in a Chicago Tribune series on the failure of the death penalty in Illinois. The series resulted in the governor placing a moratorium on capital punishment in the state. Sinclair was also part of the paper's team that won the Pulitzer Prize for its documentation of problems within the airline industry in 2000.

Sinclair's exhibitions have included "The Bride Price: The Consequences of Early Marriage Worldwide," a one-day exhibit on Capitol Hill sponsored by the International Center for Research on Women in 2008 and featured in several other exhibitions; "A Cutting Tradition: Inside an Indonesian Female Circumcision Celebration," sponsored by CARE International 2008 Brighton Photo Biennial, Brighton, England, and part of a group exhibition titled "Memory of Fire: The War of Images and Images of War;" "Children of God: The Young Women of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints," exhibited at the Angkor Photography Festival in Siem Reap, Cambodia, in 2008; "Israel-Lebanon conflict 2006," at the War Photo LTD gallery in Dubrovnik, Croatia, in 2007; "Breaking the Frame: Pioneering Women Photojournalists," at the Museum of Photographic Arts in San Diego, California, in 2006; and "Occupation: Iraq," a solo exhibition at the Peace Museum in Chicago, Illinois, in 2005.

In 2005, her work was featured on The NewsHour With Jim Lehrer in a segment called "Picturing Iraq."



Lakshmi Puri is Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations and Deputy Executive Director of UN Women, the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women. She is responsible for the leadership and management of the Bureau supporting intergovernmental bodies, United Nations coordination and external relations.

Ms. Puri has more than 37 years' experience in economic and development policy-making, as well as in political, peace and security, humanitarian and human rights–related diplomacy. Throughout her career, she has promoted the gender equality and women's empowerment agenda, where Ms. Puri has been actively involved in pioneering efforts to analyze and advocate positive linkages between economic development and gender equality. She has worked on including a gender perspective in trade investment, migration and labour mobility, financial flows, environment and climate change, energy, agriculture and food security, and access to essential services, among other issues. Ms. Puri has also contributed to policy-related research in think tanks, academic institutions and in the context of development banks.

Prior to her appointment at UN Women, Ms. Puri was Director in the Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Islands Developing States and actively coordinated the preparations for the United Nations LDC IV conference held in Istanbul in 2011. Following a distinguished diplomatic career with the Government of India, Ms. Puri joined the United Nations as Director of UNCTAD's largest division and led the work of the organization in making trade work for development. From 2007 to 2009, she was the acting Deputy Secretary-General of UNCTAD.

Ms. Puri's education is in history, public policy and administration, international relations and law, and economic development. She has a B.A. in First Division from Delhi University and a postgraduate degree from Punjab University, as well as professional diplomas.

UNFPA promotes legislation and programs designed to end child marriage. UNFPA also supports evidence-based, girl-centered investments that empower girls with the information, skills and services they need to be healthy, educated and safe, helping them make a successful transition to adulthood. UNFPA also works to support the needs of married girls particularly in family planning and maternal health.

More information about UNFPA and child marriage HERE

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