The first ever London-based Girl Summit is being held today, July 22, in the hopes of mobilising initiatives to end female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage around the world.
Co-hosted by the British government and UNICEF, delegates have travelled from across the globe to commit to action, and to promoting and enabling the freedom and human rights of all women.
"This creative, positive and engaging event will bring together women, girls and community leaders from the UK and overseas, alongside governments, international organisations and the private sector to agree on action to end FGM and CEFM [child early and forced marriage] within a generation," a statement from the Home Office reads.
"[The Summit] will hear from girls and women who have lived through the ordeal of FGM or CEFM, and from many inspiring individuals from affected communities who are now driving through changes so that other girls and women can enjoy greater opportunities in the future."
FGM is also known as female circumcision, or female genital cutting, and refers to any procedure that removes part or all of the external female genitalia, or alters or injures the genital organs in any way without medical reason.
Regarded as a rite of passage into womanhood by many African cultures, FGM is prevalent in some Diaspora communities in the UK, despite being made illegal in 1985.
World Vision recently estimated that 24,000 young girls under the age of 15 are at risk, and it is thought that up to 137,000 women and girls living in England and Wales may have undergone the painful, and dangerous, procedure.
The figure is thought to be 125 million girls worldwide, while according to UNICEF, 250 million women across the globe were married before the age of 15.
UK Prime Minister David Cameron is set to present a £1.4 million FGM prevention programme during the conference today, and leaders are hoping to "secure new commitments" from religious groups, civil society organisations and international governments.
Speaking ahead of the Summit, Cameron denounced FGM as "abhorrent", insisting that efforts will be increased to protect young women both in the UK and abroad.
"All girls have the right to live free from violence and coercion, without being forced into marriage or the lifelong physical and psychological effects of female genital mutilation," the PM announced.
"Abhorrent practices like these, no matter how deeply rooted in societies, violate the rights of girls and women across the world, including here in the UK."
Christian groups have long advocated for an end to FGM and child marriage, and Archbishop Justin Welby tweeted this morning, offering his support to the Summit:
To follow what's going on, check out #GirlSummit on Twitter