Listen to your Elders: ‘Great Change can Happen in a Single Generation’

22 Sep

We’ve always been told to listen to our elders. At Day 3 of the Mashable Social Good Summit, our elders gave us a lot to hear.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu and former President of Ireland Mary Robinson took the stage in an afternoon session moderated by Lisa Witter. They spoke out against child marriage and had an important and startling message to deliver: 10 million girls are forcibly married each year.

Responding to a call from Nelson Mandela, some of our greatest, most established world leaders have united to end child marriage. They call themselves The Elders. As leaders of what they refer to as a global village, they are on a human rights mission to end child marriage.

Two of their most useful advocacy tools? Young people and technology.

“Young people are awesome!” said Tutu, who said he’s continuously amazed by their idealism and technological prowess. He encouraged the audience to tweet about child marriage and to let their voices be heard.

Tutu and Robinson gave us the facts today – 64% of illiterate adults are women, and many girls worldwide stop going to school the day they get married. They also gave us some great encouragement and inspiration.

“Great change can happen in a single generation,” Desmond Tutu said in a short film produced by the Elders that was shown during the session. “I know this to be true. I’ve seen it with my own eyes.”

In the same film, Robinson encouraged us to imagine what would happen if we connected all those working to end child marriage. The film ends with a powerful plea: “Let girls be girls, and not brides.”

It’s getting easier and easier to imagine what could happen if advocates connected. Social media and social fundraising platforms like Fundly are connecting advocates and donors around the world. Continuing to engage and recruit supporters of human rights issues like this one is a key step in supporting women and girls worldwide.

Tutu and Robinson remind us that anything is possible and advise young people to stay positive and maintain a sense of humor.

But even the Elders can’t do everything.

“Do you tweet with God?” Witter asked of Tutu.

“Nooooooo,” he chuckled.

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