For Immediate Release
FORWARD and author Gavin Weston will mark the first ever International Day of the Girl Child with a book launch of Weston’s debut novel Harmattan, on Thursday 11th October 6.45pm-9.00pm at The Hub Kings Cross, N1 9AB.
The United Nations has designated ‘Ending Child Marriage’ as the theme for the first observance of this day to raise awareness of this grave human rights violation.
Harmattan is an evocative and heart-wrenching narrative, which details the journey of a young girl in Niger, West Africa as she transitions from the innocence of childhood to the harsh realities of child marriage. Based on real life experiences and accounts from Weston’s time living in Niger, Harmattan portrays the devastating effects that child marriage has on the lives of girls.
Author Glenn Patterson recently praised Harmattan and said: “Harmattan is just the novel that all readers need right now, opening a window on to the world”
In reviewing the book, ChesCo Book Review said: “Several years back I read a novel about a culture that was foreign to me. It was written by a journalist who was asked in an interview why a novel rather than the reporting of facts. The answer was that sometimes the best way to convey the truth is a novel. This novel conveys a reality in ways that facts never could.”
Child marriage disproportionally affects the girl child and it is estimated that annually 10 million girls are married before they reach the age of 18 and 25,000 girls are forced into marriage each day worldwide. Child marriage violates the human rights of girls, resulting in lifelong and often grave physical and mental health problems. UNFPA estimates that by 2020, there will be around 50 million child brides under the age of 15.
Naana Otoo-Oyortey, The Executive Director of FORWARD notes that “Child marriage needs to be placed high on the global development agenda and requires a two-pronged approach based on prevention and adequate support for child brides, child mothers and child widows.”
The launch, chaired by filmmaker and FORWARD patron Don Boyd, will also feature special guests: Singer/songwriter Bumi Thomas, a representative from the organisation Girls Not Brides and photographer Chiara Ceolin.
Notes to editors:
• The Foundation for Women’s Health, Research & Development is an African Diaspora women led UK campaign and support charity dedicated to advancing and safeguarding the sexual and reproductive health and rights of African girls and women.
• FORWARD’s key areas of work are: female genital mutilation (FGM), child marriage and related issues affecting women and girls.
• FORWARD works in the UK, Europe and Africa to help change practices and policies that affect access, dignity and wellbeing.
• FORWARD’s project in Tanzania in partnership with Children’s Dignity Forum and UMATI with funding from Comic Relief is working with three young women’s networks and fourteen girls clubs to mobilise action to end child marriage. The first child bride from the FORWARD project in Tanzania recently graduated from secondary school and was hailed by her school head as exemplary.
• Please RSVP to the launch to [email protected] or call 020 8960 4000
About Gavin Weston and Harmattan
• Belfast born Gavin Weston is a visual artist, writer, lecturer and inventor. He has worked and taught in Niger, West Africa where his experiences inspired and informed the story detailed in Harmattan. Harmattan is Weston’s first novel. www.gavinwestonbooks.com
• Harmattan is published by [Myrmidon Books Ltd](http://www.myrmidonbooks.com)
• Harmattan is ‘A dry, dusty wind that blows from the Sahara across West Africa. [Probably from Arabic haram, a forbidden or accursed thing.]
International Day of the Girl Child & Child Marriage
• The UN declared October 11th as International Day of the Girl Child, this day provides much needed opportunity to promote girls’ rights and highlight and address the many forms of abuse and discrimination girls suffer each day.
• Girls Not Brides is a global partnership of over 180 organisations working to end child marriage all over the world. FORWARD is one of the UK members of the partnership.
Media enquiries: For all media enquiries, please contact Naomi Reid at [email protected]