Music against child marriage

Over the past ten years, two things have played a constant in my life— music, and the issue of child marriage. So, when I got the opportunity to help raise awareness about the practice in Niger it was a no brainer: I had to lend my support. Together with UNICEF Niger and Rooftop Productions, I wanted to create a music video that would empower and motivate viewers to get involved in the issue, while also creating a metaphor that spoke to the emotional chains around a girl facing marriage at an early age.

Nigerien girls face the highest rates of child marriage globally and they need more power from around them to help curb this number. Three in four girls are married before 18 and one in four before they are 15.

A group of young girls in traditional head coverings
© UNICEF/UN0317954/Dejongh Girls are sensitized to prevent child marriage, in the village of Tamroro, in the center of Niger. UNICEF supports national and community efforts to address harmful gender norms and prevent child marriage through community mobilization and work with adolescents, religious and traditional leaders, community and women’s organizations and schools.

I wanted a song that had few words and could be understood by anyone, a song with no existing video. I forgot exactly how it happened, but I stumbled upon the track “Power” by Moon Boots featuring the vocals of Black Gatsby. The lyrics were about emancipation from situations that one or others around them are facing.

Let me be the one to set you free / give your all to me

If you believe, then you will see / that it’s all in me

– Power, by Moon Boots

Realistically, it’s almost impossible for these girls to free themselves, which is why the power then shifts to the one viewing the video. The song immediately clicked.

When I reached out to Moon Boots to request UNICEF produce a music video for their song, it was an emphatic yes. The entire team was excited. What followed was a seamless collaboration.

The idea was to show a girl in the middle of the desert seemingly trapped and forced to take on whatever nature would throw at her, reflected in her actual wedding ceremony. Eventually, an older woman appears who helps her cast off these “chains” and gives her the strength to see a way out and push forward towards a way of life of her choosing.

A UNICEF Niger team traveled to Agadez, north of Niger, to explore the ideal scene for the video. The dunes of the Sahara Desert were chosen to give life to the production. According to Juan Haro, Communications Specialist, UNICEF Niger, the location was inspired by the song. “I remember hearing the song for the first time and we all realized the Sahara would be ideal.”

The video debuts across all of Moon Boots’ social media channels, on global music outlets via their record label Anjunadeep and through UNICEF’s global social media channels. Our young audience consists of a large music fanbase so there is no telling how far the video could spread, who might watch it, or what sort of pressure it could help create to bring down the number of child brides in Niger.

It will also be screened at the high-level African Union side event to combat child marriage in the region. Prime ministers, first wives, and leaders of West and Central African countries will watch the video and hopefully be moved to act. Our message to them is: the power is now in their hands to help liberate these girls and provide them with more opportunities than the generations before might have had.

© UNICEF/Niger/2019/HaroThe music video on child marriage was produced by UNICEF and features the song “Power” performed by artistes Moon Boots and Black Gatsby.

My hope is that the viewers will be moved to raise their voices to support these girls in Niger who just need that boost, that extra hand, that support. And that is what we are trying to help jumpstart. The video alone obviously can’t fix the problem, but it’s part of the potential solution, and the girls can use every bit of global attention possible.

At the very least, fans of Moon Boots might care a little more and force further global pressure on world leaders to intervene. Along with Nigeriens themselves.

 

Nicholas Ledner is a Communication Officer with the Brand Section. His work is focused on Special Projects and supporting UNICEF through creative communication efforts to reach new audiences globally. 

 

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