Peekskill organization makes the world safer for girls

Too Young to Wed Founder Stephanie Sinclair guides the late Archbishop Desmond Tutu, humanitarian and civil rights icon, through his seminal work on child marriage on the first International Day of the Girl Child at the United Nations in New York. Photo > Jessica Van Fleteren.

Stephanie Sinclair smiles warmly through the computer screen. “I’m in Cortlandt Mansion,” she says. “About ten minutes from the office. Sinclair is a Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist who focuses on human rights challenges faced by girls and women around the world. She regularly contributes to National geographic, The New York Timesand Timeand was rewarded UNICEF Photo of the Yearnumerous World Press Photo awards and three Feature Visa Gold rewards.

His a looknon-profit, Too young to marry (TYTW)has made billions aware of the consequences of child marriage and is busy helping to evacuate Afghan families through their Afghanistan Emergency Initiative. Despite all of this – or perhaps because of it – Sinclair exudes an infectious calm and grace. “I’ve been here for seven years now.”


Native Miami, Sinclair studied journalism and art photography at the University of Florida. After graduating, she worked for The ChicagoTribune, covering the beginning of the war in Iraq. She then moved to Middle East and worked for six years as a freelance photographer throughout the region. While in Afghanistan in 2003, she witnessed the realities of child, forced and child marriage and dedicated the next 15 years to documenting the lives of those around the world affected by the practice.

The result of this documentation is the traveling international photographic exhibitionToo young to marry” which features the stories of child brides as young as five Nepal. India, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Yemen, Afghanistanand the United States. The series has won worldwide accolades and had many prestigious exhibitions, including at The United Nations Headquarter and the Whitney Biennial in new York.

Faiz, 40, and Ghulam, 11, sit at home before their wedding, Afghanistan, September 11, 2005. Ghulam said she was sad to get engaged because she wanted to be a teacher. Her favorite class was Dari, the local language, before she was forced to drop out of school. Married girls rarely attend school, which limits their economic and social opportunities. Parents sometimes withdraw their daughters from school to protect them from the possibility of sexual activity outside of marriage. It’s hard to say exactly how many early marriages take place, but according to the Afghan Women’s Ministry and women’s NGOs, around 57% of Afghan girls marry before the legal age of 16. Moreover, once the girl’s father accepts the engagement, she is immediately removed from school. Early pregnancies also lead to increased complications during childbirth.

The exhibition was launched in October 2012 the first international day of the girl. That same day, Sinclair decided that she would create a non-profit organization named after her flagship series, whose mission would be to empower girls and end child marriage around the world. “I had been in the field for a long time by then, documenting the problem,” she explains. “And I saw that there were no (non-profit) NGOs on the front line… They needed to reach more rural areas. And I felt we could do it. We could work like a small NGO and reach some of those harder to reach areas. »

Too Young to Wed initially ran out of a desk to brooklyn, then out of Sinclair’s home at Cortlandt Manor after his family moved upstate. In 2018, the organization got its own office in downtown Peekskill.


TYT make the world better and a safer place for girls in many ways. the Tehani Photo Workshop is an immersive 7-day art therapy and empowerment retreat for survivors to share their experiences and learn about photography, journalism and storytelling. Leadership scholarships provide direct support to at-risk girls and survivors of child marriage by providing access to sustained education. TYT offers breakfasts to schoolgirls from Yemendistributes emergency aid packages to Nigerian girls, and offers multi-year offers Leadership scholarships children most at risk of early marriage in Nepal. The organization also operates Covid-19 emergency health and safety initiatives in Yemen, Nigeria, Kenya, and Nepal.

TYTW has created several meaningful partnerships with other Westchesternon-profit organizations since they moved here. They are currently working with Ossining for refugees and Neighbors for Refugees evacuate afghan families and integrate them into the community.


They also associate with the Rotary Club of Peekskill and the Maralal Samburu Rotary Club in Kenya grant scholarships and promote family/community dialogue with the aim of encouraging parents to leave their daughters in school and not to marry.

Jim Sacci of Rotary Club of Peekskill says they are excited to partner with TYTW. “Stephanie Sinclair has visited our club several times to give presentations on Too Young to Wed. We fell in love with her and TYTW’s projects and tried to support them as much as possible.

With Peekskill’s New Era creative spaceTYTW launched the Resilient girls virtual advocacy and empowerment program in fall 2020. The program facilitated conversation among young female leaders around the world. In the inaugural video interview, SiennaTYTW’s first Youth Ambassador, an 18-year-old sophomore at Harvardspeak with Rosillah, a 16 year old boy from Kenya Samburu County who had been married and circumcised at the age of 9, but was now attending school and hoped to work in medicine, thanks to scholarships and programs from TYTW.

“The [photo] the workshop helped me a lot,” Rosillah explained to Sienna. “It encouraged me… to gain courage, to stand in front of people and to tell my story.”

Sinclair is happy to partner with other local organizations. “A lot of people we work with, through the Rotary Club and New Era Creative Space, have really made it feel more like a community.”

When Sinclair is not working, she enjoys spending time with her family. She can be found to eat at by Gleason and 105 twenty and hike around Blue Mountain Reservation and bear mountain. “We love this place,” she says. “It really feels like home and I certainly don’t plan on going anywhere.”



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