“It’s time to put those good intentions into action!”, Princess Mabel said during her speech Monday morning in Dakar, the capital of Senegal, at the start of the three-day international conference about the ending of child marriage in West and Central Africa. “In this part of the world, child marriage is most common. Six of the ten countries that have the most child marriage are here at the conference.”
Ministers, representatives of NGO’s, ambassadors and First Ladies have come from all over the region to Dakar to talk about the best approach the end child marriage. The Danish former Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt said in her speech, “The second most common cause of death for young girls is from complications in childbirth. That is why, no more childbrides!” She spoke on behalf of Save the Child and the Civil Society Organisation. The Ambassador of the African Union, Olawale Maiyegun said, “Without women Africa will not be able to develop further. Girls that marry early cannot contribute to the development.”
Crown Princess Mary was also supposed to attend the conference, but her visit was cancelled for security reasons. Crown Princess Mary was supposed to accompany Ulla Tørnæs, Minister for Development Cooperation on a trip to Senegal. However, the Danish Foreign Ministry has stated that both the Crown Princess and the minister would not travel to the African country.
Princess Mabel is the founder of “Girls not Brides”, a global partnership committed to ending child marriage and enabling girls to fulfil their potential. Princess Mabel has been fighting to end child marriages for a long time. She is the sister-in-law of King Willem-Alexander and the wife of the late Prince Friso. On 17 February 2012, he was buried under an avalanche in Lech, Austria, while skiing off-piste. He was taken to the hospital in Innsbruck in critical condition, where tests revealed that he suffered massive brain damage due to oxygen shortage. He was initially in a coma but later progressed to a minimally conscious state. On 12 August 2013, Prince Friso died of complications.