As part of this year’s BBC 100 Women season, BBC Gender and Identity correspondent Megha Mohan and director Yousef Eldin, accompanied by three prominent humanitarians—Michelle Obama, Amal Clooney, and Melinda French Gates—visited Malawi to shed light on the global issue of child marriage. The documentary, titled “12 Million Girls,” will be broadcast on the BBC News channel and can be accessed on BBC iPlayer (UK only) starting Saturday, 9 December.

The trip is a result of a joint initiative launched in 2022 by The Obama Foundation’s Girls Opportunity Alliance, the Gates Foundation, and the Clooney Foundation for Justice, with the aim of putting an end to child marriage.

Michelle Obama, attorney, author and one of the BBC 100 Women for 2023 says: “If we let one thing slip, it all just starts to unravel. In the United States we’re dealing with a rollback in reproductive rights, things that people thought they could take for granted… And a lot of it is because of the devaluation of women, and the belief that women don’t have choice and power over their own being. That’s what’s happening here.”

Ulanda Mtamba, Malawi’s country director for AGE Africa (Advancing Girls’ Education in Africa) and also one of the BBC 100 Women for 2023, highlighted the transformative power of education for girls. She asserted that educating a single girl can break the cycle of poverty as she becomes a catalyst for positive change in her community.

Amal Clooney, a human rights lawyer and one of the BBC 100 Women for 2023, emphasized the importance of ensuring that girls are aware of their rights. She discussed the formation of a network of mobile legal aid clinics aimed at educating girls about their rights and providing free legal assistance to protect them from child marriage.

“12 Million Girls” will air on BBC News on Saturday, 9 December, at 02:30 and 15:30 GMT, and on Sunday, 10 December, at 09:30 and 18:30 GMT. Additionally, the documentary will be available on BBC iPlayer for viewers in the UK.