London, July 21 IANS | 2 months ago

Actress Freida Pinto will address and give the closing speech at the world's first Girl Summit hosted by the British government along with its Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg Tuesday.


The initiative is aimed to bring together girls, women and community leaders from Britain and overseas, alongside governments, international organisations and the private sector to agree on action to end female genital mutilation (FGM) and child, early and forced marriage (CEFM).

Freida will also be seen participating in key youth programmes.

Co-hosted by Unicef, the Girl Summit is aimed at mobilising domestic and international efforts to end FGM and child, early and forced marriage within the generation.

Freida, an Indian actress who made it big after featuring in Hollywood film "Slumdog Millionaire", will be seen addressing the gathering of attendees talking about the future of women and children.

"More than 125 million girls and women alive today have suffered some form of FGM in the 29 countries where the practice is concentrated. Unicef estimates that globally, around one in three young women aged 20 to 24 were married before the age of 18," Freida said in a statement.

"Around 11 percent - 23 million girls - entered into marriage or union before they reached 15. Girls and women have the right to live free from violence and discrimination and achieve their potential, but some are being prevented from doing so by harmful practices such as FGM and CEFM, which are illegal in the UK," Freida said.

She said she is "particularly also concerned about the incidents of FGM and CEFM in my own country. I was horrified to hear that FGM is also practised in India. It maybe a small community of people that practise it, but no matter how small the number, it's a violation of human rights and those girls are also very significant and important to us."

"It's a well-kept secret and silence has to be broken. And the same goes for child marriage. We are aware that it's a common practise in some communities but we also need to be aware of the full extent of its damage caused to these young lives - physical and psychological," she added.

At the summit, Freida is looking forward to discussing how ending child marriage and FGM can preserve a girl's childhood, promote her education, and reduce her exposure to violence and abuse.

Other speakers at the summit include key voices and policy makers like Theresa May, Justine Greening, Anthony Lake, executive director of Unicef, Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina, among others.

(Posted on 21-07-2014)

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