This blog was originally published on Catapult.
Girls Not Brides is a global partnership of organisations working to end child marriage. Catapult was formed to support people on the ground who are working to improve girls’ and women’s lives and making a more equal world. When a strong coalition like Girls Not Brides and a powerful digital solution like Catapult come together, there are amazing results!
For years, grassroots activists around the world have been working to change hearts and minds and persuade communities that delaying marriage for their daughters would be to everyone’s benefit – their daughters would be healthier and safer and their communities more prosperous.
These advocates often lack the resources that would help to dissuade parents not to marry off their daughters. Parents may see the benefits waiting, but when there is no local school for their daughter to attend, or there is no bus to help her get there, when there are no opportunities for her to earn an income or when the rest of their community insists on child marriage, parents feel they have little option but to marry off their daughters.
However, change is happening. There is increasing national and international recognition that child marriage holds us back and hinders our efforts to build a more equal world. More and more people see that child marriage traps girls and their families in a cycle of poverty. Most importantly, those who have worked for so long to help girls avoid child marriage are finally getting the support they need.
Thanks to Catapult’s partnership with Girls Not Brides, more people like you, who believe in equality and opportunity for all, are learning about child marriage and supporting Girls Not Brides member organisations. Civil society organisations do incredible work with very limited resources. Your donations are helping them to make an even bigger impact.
Together, Girls Not Brides, Catapult, and you have funded 12 projects related to ending child marriage, including these three:
In Kenya, the Kakenya Center for Excellence has been supporting girls to choose school over marriage in the Maasai community (which has the highest rate of child marriage in the country). Thanks to supporters on Catapult, 30 girls received uniforms, books and food, which enabled them to stay in school rather than become brides before their time.
In India, Catapult supporters funded a programme that trains young people to become leaders against child marriage in their communities. The project, run by Breakthrough, is training more than 2000 youth activists in Bihar and Jharkhand, regions with some of the highest rates of child marriage in India.
And in Pakistan, Sujag Sansar has been training journalists to use their influential role to highlight the impact of child marriage. Thanks to the funding, teachers too have been persuaded of the role that they can play in helping to prevent child marriage.
“When I learnt that girls education is a natural barrier against child marriages I requested the parents to send their girls to my tuition centre where previously I was only teaching boys,” explains Sajid, a volunteer in rural Pakistan. “I am also educating the parents about the harmful impacts of child marriages.”
Child marriage is not unique to any country, culture or religion. It has happened for generations throughout the world. It will not end overnight. But we do know that when girls are empowered to take a stand against child marriage, they can and they do. We know that when communities see the benefits of delaying marriage, they do change their ways.
And we know that the more people prepared to stand in solidarity with those who are working to end child marriage, the more encouraged and determined those activists feel and the more change we can make happen together. Thank you for standing with us.
Want to help? Choose one of these projects to end child marriage.
In the time it has taken to read this article 39 girls under the age of 18 have been married
Each year, 12 million girls are married before the age of 18
That is 23 girls every minute
Nearly 1 every 3 seconds
Girls Not Brides
Marta is a Member Engagement Officer at Girls Not Brides: The Global Partnership to End Child Marriage, liaising with the partnership’s 300 member organisations across the globe.