UN Women has announced that Balqees Fathi, an award-winning, Emirati-Yemeni singer, will act as the first Planet 50-50 champion for the Arab States Region to advocate for the rights of women survivors of violence, with a focus on child marriage.
"The voices of young women in the region are drowned by the hefty problems of conflicts, the refugee crisis and dire economic conditions,” Mohammad Naciri, UN Women regional director for Arab states, said. “Balqees' dedication to reach out to and advocate for young women is of great value at such a time. Her focus on women's economic empowerment and violence against women and girls is a perfect match with UN Women's vision that the two subjects are highly interlinked.”
Approximately 14 percent of girls in the region marry under the age of 18. Since the start of the refugee crisis in Syria, this number has risen dramatically, especially within refugee camps. In Jordan, for example, the rate of child marriages increased to 18 percent in 2012 and then skyrocketed to 25 percent in 2013.
"For me, this is the social responsibility of artists, to support their communities as long as they have an influence," Fathi said. "It is an honor to be here because it means I have a chance to be part of a collective effort to actually make a difference."