‘Let’s make a sustainable impact in the communities where we work’

Dear members and friends of the Her Choice family,

I hope that you are all healthy and doing well, despite the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, and the rejection of our proposal for the continuation of Her Choice. It was a hard blow, both for all local partners and alliance members, as well as for the girls and the communities we work with. Especially now, during these times of pandemic, the work of the Her Choice alliance – addressing child marriage and FGM, empowering girls (and boys) to reach their full potential, and motivating leaders from the local to the international level to create equal chances for men and women – is more necessary than ever.

At the same time, I’m hopeful. Looking back on the process that has led to the creation of the proposal for the new programme, I’m impressed by the true collaboration between colleagues, organisations, countries and continents.  And this feeling has only increased during recent developments. All thirty Her Choice partners showed flexibility, willpower and resilience to alter and adapt activities in no time. Not just to comply with the challenges of the lockdown, but to provide creative solutions and true support at the frontline. And thus, to continue their efforts to empower girls to not become victims but, instead, become part of the solution.

In these final months of our programme, I’m calling on everyone to keep on making the most out of the challenges and opportunities that have arisen from the COVID-19 crisis. I’m convinced that by further strengthening all the changemakers we have trained, we can make a sustainable impact in the communities where we work. So that the girls and boys we work with, even after Her Choice, will have the freedom of voice and will be able to choose if, when and whom to marry.

The energy which has been and continues to be invested by all of you is so powerful, that I’m convinced only good things can be the result of it. Let’s make it happen!

Odilia van Manen, programme manager Her Choice Alliance