Engaging religious leaders to address child marriage: challenges, benefits and strategies
Child marriage is not determined by any particular religion. It happens across countries, cultures, ethnicities and religions. And both very high and very low rates of child marriage can are found in the same religious community across different contexts. With almost 80% of the world population professing a religious belief, religious leaders have the potential to help end century-old practices such as child marriage.
Some religious leaders are powerful agents of change. Others are an obstacle to progress on child marriage. In the Girls Not Brides May Learning Series, we discussed the challenges and benefits of engaging religious leaders in our efforts to end child marriage, and how we can work effectively with them.
To explore these questions, we heard from experts working with Christian, Hindu and Muslim communities across the world:
- John Kingsley Krugu who is Director of Youth Harvest Foundation in Ghana, an organisation that seeks to support and empower young people to achieve their full potential by supporting their sexual and reproductive health and promoting their skill development through education and work opportunities. Youth Harvest Foundation works closely with Christian and Muslim religious scholars to address child marriage in the North of the country, where it is most prevalent.
- Muhammad Aslam Panwhar who is Director of Peace Foundation in Pakistan. His organisation has been working with Muslim and Hindu religious leaders for many years, seeking to promote peace, social harmony and sexual and reproductive health, and prevent child marriage in communities living in the desert area in Pakistan.
- Robyn Hagan, who is global Advisor for Faith Integration for Child Protection and Participation at World Vision International. World Vision is a Christian organisation working to address a range of issues, including child marriage, to help communities lift themselves out of poverty. Robyn has led piloting, co-authored materials, and tools with experts from a broad range of disciplines and world cultures to engage faith leaders from diverse traditions (e.g., Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, etc.) to end violence against children. She supports continued capacity building and mobilisation of World Vision staff and faith leaders in more than 45 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle-East and Eastern Europe.
- Neelam Fida, who is Child protection and safeguarding advisor at Islamic Relief Worldwide, an organisation inspired by the Islamic faith that tackles the root causes of poverty and works with communities to strengthen their resilience to disasters. Neelam as long-standing experience addressing various forms of violence against children through the engagement of religious leaders.
Watch the webinar to learn more: