Alongside UNICEF, one of the Africa’s best-known designers, Alphadi, is lending his voice and talents to accelerate efforts to end child marriage in Niger
NIAMEY, Niger, July 5, 2019/ — On the first day of the International Festival of African Fashion (FIMA) held in Niamey from July 4 to 6, organized on the sidelines of the African Union Summit, Alphadi surprised the audience through a social experiment whose objective is to draw attention to the issue of child marriage in Niger.
Young girls under the age of 15 marched alongside men who are double their age in wedding outfits. It was mainly about capturing the audience’s reaction and engaging conversations around the issue of child marriage in the country.
“I dress women and girls to make them beautiful and value them, not to marry them at 13,” he said. “To give the continent a chance to grow, we need to educate girls. Preserving the future of the girl means preserving the future of the whole nation, and we need to give the girl the respect she deserves.”
Known as the “Magician of the desert”, Alphadi is the founder of the International Festival of African fashion (FIMA) and is also the chairman of the Federation of African fashion designers (FAC). The festival has long sought to highlight the variety and diversity of African fashion and put Africa’s creativity on the world map. Over the past years, this Festival allowed African designers to come together with other international designers such as Yves Saint Laurent, Kenzo, Jean Paul Gaultier and Paco Rabanne.
For thousands of children in Niger, childhood is cut short by marriage. UNICEF estimates that around 3 in 4 young girls were married before the age of 18, and 1 in 4 before the age of 15 in the country. Over the past years, the Government of Niger has made significant efforts to create protective environment for children.
“Education is one of the best ways to protect against child marriage. Being in school helps a girl to be seen as a child, rather than a woman, and thus not ready for marriage” said Felicite Tchibindat, UNICEF Representative in Niger.
In Niger, UNICEF supports the development of laws and policies, and work to strengthen systems which offer a protective environment for children. UNICEF works with grassroots community organizations and religious and traditional leaders to address the social norms that allow child marriage to perpetuate in the country