10 Facts About Gender Inequality
In our patriarchal society, many underserve and underappreciate women in several aspects of life. Gender inequality ranges from the gender-pay gap to genital mutilation, transcending geographical and cultural differences. These 10 facts about gender inequality display the overarching themes of inequalities that women face and cope with around the world.

10 Facts About Gender Inequality

  1. Lack of Basic Education: In 2014, 263 million children were not in school. At the primary level, 31 million girls did not attend school compared to 29 million boys. Poverty and family income are often driving factors in whether or not girls have the opportunity to attend school. Other factors such as violence, living in remote, inaccessible areas and child marriages can also heavily impact female retention in schools. Increasing female education level is imperative to the positive growth and development of an individual, a family and a country.
  2. The Prominence of Child Marriages: As of 2014, 700 million girls are coerced into marriage before the age of 18. If people force girls into marriage at an early age, they are more likely to drop out of school as well as get pregnant early, which can contribute to physical and mental health hazards. Girls Not Brides is an organization committed to resolving child marriages around the world by keeping governments accountable. It also implements new policies and programs and increases the visibility of the issue.
  3. Increased Pregnancy Complications: Pregnancy and childbirth complications increase as income decreases. Stressors such as financial instability or crowded, polluted living spaces make infant mortality two-thirds higher compared to a higher income area. In addition to infant mortality, half a million women and girls die from child deliveries and complications each year.
  4. Battling Menstruation Stigma: Menstruation is a hormone-based process that signals female fertility. However, in countries such as Venezuela and rural Ghana, communities ostracize girls and women during menstruation. In Venezuela, communities force menstruating women to sleep in huts and in Ghana, communities forbid women from making contact with men. Furthermore, in underprivileged areas, menstruating women often do not have access to sanitary napkins which can cause infections. However, Freedom4Girls, a charity dedicated to removing the stigma around menstruation, is taking action by providing environmentally-friendly, reusable hygiene products to women in poverty.
  5. Culture of Domestic Violence: Domestic violence occurs due to unequal power dynamics within a partnership with approximately 85 percent of domestic violence victims as women. The practice of a patriarchal culture empowers abuse and violence against women, leaving low-income women at a higher risk of staying in violent relationships.
  6. Underreporting of Sexual Assault and Rape: Rape is highly underreported and repeatedly under-prosecuted with one in five women experiencing unwanted sexual contact in their lives. The underreporting of these crimes is frequently the result of fear related to public shaming, officials doubting their situations and further harm from the perpetrator. Women who experienced rape may also experience short-term or long-term Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, therefore, putting mental health at risk. Victims of rape or sexual assault may resort to RAINN, an organization committed to improving the criminal justice system for sexual assault cases, increasing visibility for sexual violence and providing victim-focused services.
  7. The Dominance of Females in Human Trafficking: Human trafficking encompasses the enslaving of humans into unwanted labor or sexual activity. In 2014, 80 percent of enslaved humans brought across international borders were women, funding a multi-billion dollar industry and remaining as one of the largest illicit crime operations. Because of the pervasiveness of human trafficking, a multitude of organizations around the world are working to end this issue including the Polaris Project in the United States, Prajwala in India and COSA in Thailand.
  8. Existence of Female Genital Mutilation: Cultures perform female genital mutilation due to a series of cultural ideals where the female body must remain pure and clean. For example, some cultures believe that female genital mutilation will ensure virginity and fidelity by removing the “unnecessary” areas that promote pleasure. As many as 200 million girls have undergone the practice in Africa, the Middle East and Asia. 28 Too Many works to terminate these practices in the countries of Africa through extensive global data research, policy changes and community engagement.
  9. Marginal Female Leadership Representation: In more privileged countries, the number of females in leadership roles is dramatically lower than male counterparts considering the same level of education. Women account for 52.5 percent of the college-educated workforce with 57 percent of undergraduate degrees and 59 percent of master degrees. For example, in the financial industry, 61 percent of accounts and auditors are women, however, only 12.5 percent of chief financial officers in Fortune 500 companies are women.
  10. Unequal Economic Participation: Society has historically ingrained the idea of unequal economic participation and the entire world demonstrates this. Multiple countries possess laws to make it difficult or impossible for women to own land. Even though females represent half of the world’s population, less than 20 percent of the land is owned by women. Owning land is important for female economic development such as improved access to loans as well as educational development. Landesa Center for Women’s Land Rights recognizes the benefits of land ownership and is devoted to reforming laws and policies and developing programs to include women’s land rights.

These 10 facts about gender inequality demonstrate how one aspect of female suppression could lead to another. For example, girls who do not have the privilege of receiving a basic education could become vulnerable to teenage pregnancies or child marriages, which could further lead to pregnancy complications and compromised wellbeing. Women constantly face unjust and unequal circumstances that suppress rights to their own bodies, property or financial stability. Although many organizations such as Girls Not Brides, Freedom4Girls and Polaris Project have successfully come together in an effort to counteract multiple harmful practices and beliefs, it is important to recognize inequalities in everyday life and break the cycle of female suppression.

– Angela Dong
Photo: Flickr

Child Marriages in AfghanistanAfghanistan is often ranked as the world’s most dangerous country for women. Young girls are so often robbed of their childhoods by means of widespread violations of their human rights. Poverty, limited access to education and healthcare, little if any support for victims of domestic violence, high birth rates and draconian traditions regarding the role of women leave girls highly vulnerable to abuse.

Though the legal age of marriage is 16 years for women and 18 years for men, as outlined by the Afghan Civil Code, 33 percent of girls are married by the age of 18, the internationally recommended standard legal age for marriage. These marriages essentially treat girls as property in order to strengthen ties between rival families and tribes or to settle debts and disputes. Poor families often sell their daughters for large sums of money to wealthy families and much older men.

Girls who marry in childhood have little power in their household, a greater likelihood of dropping out of school and being illiterate, lower labor force participation and earnings and less control over household assets. Thus, girls’ potential for societal contribution in Afghanistan is immediately stunted by being forced into child marriage.

Child brides, as well as their children, will likely experience a lower standard of health. Adolescent mothers also have a significantly higher risk of maternal mortality and morbidity than women just a few years older than them. These deficits, which affect not only the individuals involved in child marriages in Afghanistan but also the entire country, have not gone unnoticed.

Girls Not Brides is a global partnership committed to helping girls fulfill their potentials by putting an end to child marriage. By emphasizing accountability on behalf of governments and other participants to uphold, respect and protect the rights of girls, the organization pressures countries like Afghanistan to address the issue of child marriage.

In April 2017, the Afghan government showed its support for ending child marriage in Afghanistan by launching a National Action Plan to Eliminate Early and Child Marriage. The Ministry of Women’s Affairs and the Ministry of Information and Culture, with support from UNFPA Afghanistan, the Canadian government and a range of other activists, worked together to develop the declaration. This plan highlights two techniques: initiatives designed to prevent early and childhood marriages and improving laws and services in support of people at risk of early and child marriage.

However, orchestrating a National Action Plan is just the beginning; the plan must be implemented in order to make a difference. Organizations such as Girls Not Brides pledge to ensure that governments take action to protect their girls from underage and unlawful marriage. Initiatives with the goal of putting an end to child marriage in Afghanistan will only succeed with the support of such associations.

Richa Bijlani

Photo: Flickr

The Link Between Education and Ending Child MarriageAccording to the organization Girls Not Brides, child marriage is “any formal marriage or informal union where one or both of the parties are under 18 years of age.” The largest number of child marriages take place in Western and Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Over 50 percent of girls living in Bangladesh, Niger, Mozambique and Mali are married before they turn 18.

Child marriage violates several international human rights treaties including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. All of these treaties require that marriage be consensual between both parties and that both parties be legal adults (over the age of 18.)

Beyond violating human rights treaties, child marriage has many negative consequences for the participants. While boys are affected negatively by child marriage as well, the burden is felt more by girls and there is more data on its effects on girls. Child marriage leads to higher incidences of domestic violence, marital rape, medical complications due to pregnancy and HIV/AIDS. It is also difficult for girls who marry young to find work.

So, is there a silver bullet? Is there an easy way to reduce the number of girls who are forced to marry young? No – unfortunately things are rarely that simple. However, education is the most useful tool we have.

What is the link between education and ending child marriage?

There is undoubtedly a link between education and ending child marriage, but it is complex. On the one hand, higher educational attainment is associated with fewer child marriages and lower educational attainment is associated with more child marriages. But child marriage also obstructs educational attainment; therefore, the cause and effect are not clear. “Leaving school early both contributes to, and results from, marrying young.”

So, what do we know?

We know that girls are less likely to marry as children the higher if they obtain a higher level of education. We also know that countries with higher rates of child marriage have proportionally lower rates of school enrollment for girls. For example, in Niger – where there is the greatest disparity – 76 percent of girls are married before 18 and only 10 percent of girls are enrolled in secondary school. While primary school is important and should be accessible for all, secondary school attainment is a more reliable measure.

Why does child marriage still happen?

Poverty is a leading cause of child marriage. Families may want their daughters to marry so they have fewer mouths to feed, so they no longer have to pay their school fees or so that they receive the dowry – typically money or livestock – in exchange for their permission to marry.

Inaccessible education also leads to higher incidences of child marriage. Especially in rural areas, schools can be too far away to reach. Even when girls do make it to school, teacher absenteeism is common in underfunded rural schools and the quality of the education itself may be lacking due to poor teacher training and a lack of supplies and textbooks.

Environmental factors can also affect the rate of child marriage. Natural disasters may spur families to marry off their daughters, to protect them or to receive the dowry to help them rebuild.

What can be done?

Many organizations are working to eradicate child marriage through several different approaches. Girls Not Brides has a theory of change centered around four areas: empowering girls, mobilizing communities, providing services and implementing policies. This approach is rather comprehensive. Other organizations may focus on just one facet – improving access to quality education, making girls aware of their human rights or providing scholarships for school attendance.

Solutions should be oriented around requiring consent of both parties and requiring proof of age before a marriage ceremony. Education and ending child marriage may be intrinsically linked, but change will be most effective if the girls themselves are empowered to fulfill their own personal and professional aspirations and become economically independent.

Olivia Bradley

Photo: Flickr

Child Marriage in Afghanistan
Child marriage in Afghanistan is so common that over 30% of all girls are married before the age of 18. This disturbing figure bears more than a cursory glance. Aside from causing immense emotional and physical duress for child brides, the practice also massively hinders the girls’ ability to access education.

The phenomenon of child marriage in Afghanistan is not unique to the country, nor even to South Asia. In fact, the country with the highest prevalence of child brides is Niger, with 76% of girls married by the age of 18. In South Asia, the largest absolute number of child brides is in India — where 12 million children were married before the age of 10.

These figures speak to the fact that child marriage is not a phenomenon of any one race or religion. It has developed independently around the world, often for financial benefit or social mobility. However, in all cases, the effects on young girls have been devastating.

In Afghanistan, the relationship between the occurrence of child marriage and lack of education for females is chilling. Only 14% of girls are literate and only 36 percent are receiving an education. Naturally, these figures cannot be a result of child marriage in Afghanistan alone.

Factors Leading to Child Marriage in Afghanistan

Other factors created by a highly patriarchal society must be taken into consideration. Nevertheless, marrying off girls at a young age has an undeniable influence on their education.

The clearest way that child marriage affects female education is by causing girls to drop out of school in preparation for marriage or pregnancy.

This choice reflects a larger mentality where education for females is considered less valuable than marriage — a far more lucrative venture for families that consider their daughters to be liabilities. Once the girl is married, it can be hard for her to return to school, since she now has a family that takes up most of her time.

Girls Not Brides, an organization focused on ending child marriage states that girls with no education are three times as likely to marry by 18 as those with secondary or higher education.

In addition, over 60 percent of women ages 20-24 with no education were married before 18. Clearly, education is both a catalyst for and a consequence of lowered rates of child marriage.

Educating girls at the secondary school level equips them with the ability to recognize when and whom they want to marry. It also ensures that they have skills that make them self-reliant financially and emotionally.

The mere practice of being in school also furthers the perception that girls are still too young to be married and must invest their time in learning instead of child rearing.

Child marriage in Afghanistan is a direct result of poverty, strong patriarchal values, lack of access to education and cultural practices. All of these factors could be prevented by increasing female participation in schooling, as not only would girls be immediately affected; their qualifications would also allow them to later have a voice in decision making.

Mallika Khanna

Photo: Flickr

Child Marriage in Malawi
According to Girls Not Brides, Malawi has the highest rate of child marriages worldwide, with roughly one in two girls getting married by the age of 18. In rural areas stricken with poverty, parents choose husbands for young girls to improve their financial status. Families sometimes give their daughters in marriage in an exchange called kupimbira in order to repay their debts.

Theresa Kachindamoto, chief of a Malawian district of 900,000 people, is taking a stand to eradicate child marriage in Malawi. She has prevented more than 850 marriages and enlisted 50 sub-chiefs to enforce the ban in her district. “Whether you like it or not, I want these marriages to be terminated,” Kachindamoto said. “I tell them: if you educate your girls you will have everything in the future.”

Tamara Mhango of Girls Not Brides spoke about Kachindamoto’s mission. “She goes around her community even through the different platforms to raise awareness on the importance of girl education and also directly supports and sponsors girls who are vulnerable to stay in school, thereby delaying marriages,” Mhango said.

Between 2010 and 2013, 27,612 girls in primary schools and 4,053 girls in secondary schools in Malawi dropped out because of forced marriage. In addition to this, 14,051 primary school students and 5,597 secondary school students dropped out after becoming pregnant.

According to a Human Rights Watch report titled, “‘I’ve Never Experienced Happiness’: Child Marriage in Malawi,” marriage interrupts girls’ education and dreams. Many of Malawi’s child brides reported that they weren’t able to return to school because they couldn’t afford school fees, child care services, school programs or adult classes. Household chores also contended for their time.

The report found that child marriage in Malawi often forced girls into relationships wrought with sexual and domestic abuse and gender-based violence. Some girls said their families used manipulative tactics to coerce them into forced marriage, threatening and verbally abusing them or throwing them out on the street if they refused to comply.

“The lack of dissemination and popularization of policies and laws that protect girls [in] the communities is one of the challenges faced in the efforts to eradicate the practice,” Mhango told The Borgen Project. “Inconsistencies in the new marriage law and the constitution [regarding] the legal age of marriage is one deterrent factor.”

According to health workers in Malawi, problems related to reproductive health and pregnancy, such as maternal death, obstetric fistula, premature delivery and anemia, occur most frequently among young girls. Malawi’s maternal mortality rate has reached 675 deaths per 100,000 live births. Malawian health workers suggested that early pregnancy complications could be avoided with better funding.

“If allowed to stay in school, properly supported through their education, and make sure that policies are in place, enforced and implemented to protect the girls at all levels, then we would prevent child marriages,” Mhango said.

Rachel Williams

Photo: Flickr

 Child Marriage and Trafficking
A new app, Girl Power, is helping to track girls in India and Bangladesh, where the rate of child marriage and trafficking have been especially high in the last few decades.

The International Labor Organization (ILO) estimates that 200,000 to 250,000 women and children are trafficked annually to Southeast Asia alone, and more than 1 million children are affected globally every year. West Bengal is a state that accounts for a fifth of India’s 5,466 cases of human trafficking, reported in 2014.

India has the highest number of child brides in the world, according to Girls Not Brides, a nonprofit committed to ending child marriage. It is estimated that 47 percent of girls in India are married before their 18th birthday.

Accenture and the NGO Child in Need Institute (CINI) launched “GPower” in 2015. According to Reuters, it has been used to track over 6,000 families in 20 villages in West Bengal.

“The technology helps us identify the most vulnerable of the girls in minutes,” said Indrani Bhattacharya in an interview with the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Community workers or teachers within the village are trained to use the tablets provided, which already have the app installed. The app requires the user to answer a set of questions on health, nutrition, protection and education, which help to determine the vulnerability of the respondent.

The questionnaire takes approximately 30 minutes to complete, and analysis of the answers takes place in a matter of minutes. Using the information collected, community workers can decide whether or not girls are appropriate candidates for counseling, vocational training or government welfare schemes. The community workers register all details for each girl between the ages of 10 and 19 in a given village.

So far, GPower has helped save 200 girls from trafficking or becoming a victim of child marriage across 20 villages in Bangladesh and India. It is likely that the app will continue to a have a positive impact, as India is the world’s second-biggest market for mobile phones, with more than 1 billion users. Apps, from weather reports to health services, are gaining a lot of popularity among rural communities.

“The problem in India is one of scale – there is only so much that an NGO can do in terms of reach,” said Sanjay Podder, managing director at Accenture Labs in Bengaluru. “To address social problems, technology is not just nice to have, it is necessary.”

Michelle Simon

Photo: Flickr

Girls not Brides reports that “over 700 million women alive today were married as children” and that “1 in 3 girls in the developing world are said to be married before 18.” Malawi is the worst offender for child marriage as one in two girls in Malawi are married before 18, many of them married even well before the age of 15.

Such young marriages are a cultural custom, but it is at the expense of the girls involved. When girls become pubescent, they are sent to cleansing ceremonies where girls as young as nine are taught how to sexually please a man, even being forced to engage in sex with an older man to become cleansed from their “childhood dust.” Many girls often leave the ceremonies infected with HIV/AIDs, or even pregnant.

Since pregnancy and marriage are forced on girls at such a young age, most girls drop out of school and remain uneducated. If a girl becomes pregnant at the ceremony, it is normal for that girl to be forced into a marriage immediately. Divorce is also quite high; it is not uncommon for a 16 year-old to have several children and a divorce or two as well.

Such is the story of Memory Banda’s sister and many other girls in her country of Malawi, but not for Memory herself. She was determined not go to a cleansing ceremony, but, rather, to finish her education. She not only finished her education, but also went on to become a champion for girls’ rights in Malawi.

She was part of a writing workshop for girls, where the girls shared their experiences of the cultural practices they faced. The Girls Empowerment Network Malawi (GENET) compiled and published these accounts as “I Will Marry When I Want To!” Memory recently gave a TedTalk in May 2015, describing the culture she grew up in and the challenges that young girls face in Malawi, as described above.

Memory has also specifically lobbied her government for new laws regarding child marriage and has spoken at a UN event. Her platform, in conjunction with GENET, focuses on bringing awareness to the dire women’s rights’ issue in Malawi and has helped legislation change in Malawi.

In early 2015, an official law was made that raised the legal marrying age to 18. In a country where child marriage is a cultural norm and abuse against women often goes unreported in an effort for families to save their reputations, this ruling is a monumental achievement. Girls, and their education and well-being, are being given the recognition and respect that they deserve in the legal system.

There is a stipulation in the new law that children aged 15-18 may still marry with parental consent, and there is worry that illegal marriages will still take place. Also, now the police force must enforce the law, a fact that could meet resistance in areas. But legislation is starting to move the issue in the right direction; girls are being given a fighting chance to have a life of their own.

Memory Banda and the girls brave enough to stand with her are taking back their rights to choose marriage when they are ready. Those girls who have suffered through a child marriage, like Memory’s sister, are ready to give their own children a different fate. Ripples of change are moving through Malawi culture thanks to Memory Banda and those who stand for women’s rights.

Megan Ivy

Sources: GENET, Girls not Brides, Genet Malawi, KBIA, TedTalk
Photo: Girls Learn International

Every minute, 28 girls around the world who are under the age of 18 are forced into marriage. Child marriage is one of the most serious human rights violations of today. An average of 15 million girls are annually forced to marry before they are of legal marriageable age, and the consequences can be severe. Child brides are more likely to face domestic violence, HIV/AIDS and complications during pregnancy. Some brides are able to escape their marriage, but are then forced to return to an abusive home because they are not able to survive on their own.

Although there are laws that prohibit child marriage, these marriages still persist for many reasons, including poverty and cultural traditions. Parents who are poor tend to try to marry their children off at an earlier age in order to have one less mouth to feed. Also, some countries still practice dowry-giving (in which the bride’s family has to give a present to a groom at the time of marriage). Since dowries are lower for younger brides, many families who feel the need to give a dowry try to marry their daughters off at a young age.

Luckily, there are programs in place that work to reduce the amount of child marriages taking place throughout the world. One of the main ways to help is to increase the amount of access to education that girls receive. Girls who are able to complete their education are more likely to be able to support themselves, and therefore less likely to be forced into marriage in order to survive. Educating communities also plays a large part in decreasing the number of child marriages which occur.

Canada has been an important player in the fight against early and forced marriages. As Girls Not Brides states, in 2013, Canada and Zambia co-led a U.N. Resolution to combat child, early and forced marriages. They are working to pass a second resolution by mid-November of 2015. Canada has also give $20 million to UNICEF in order to fight child marriage in Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Gambia, Yemen and Zambia.

The Canadian Broadcasting Channel reports that on Wednesday, July 8, 2015, Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister announced that the government would give $10 million to end child, early and forced marriages worldwide. $2.3 million of that money is to go towards promoting education and skills training for girls in the Commonwealth countries, and the rest of the money is meant for local community groups, governments and NGOs which work to end child marriages.

This increase in funding is part of the Canadian Government’s Muskoka Initiative, a $3.5 billion pledge which focuses on maternal, child and newborn health. Eleven Canadian NGOs are going to share $180 million in the next five years in order to help with projects which address nutrition, sanitation, hygiene and health worker training.
Increasing aid is an important step towards making certain foreign affairs issues a priority. By giving money to fight child marriage, Canada reinforces just how important it is to end the human rights violation of forced marriages once and for all.

Ashrita Rau

Sources: Yahoo News, Girls Not Brides 1, Girls Not Brides 2, CBC, UNICEF
Photo: Punch

Each year, approximately 15 million girls under the age of 18 are forced into marriage. These child brides normally have their husbands selected for them by their fathers, and they are not given any power or choice when it comes to their marriage. Many of them are forced to marry men much older than they are.

Child marriage is most prevalent in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. India accounts for one-third of the total child brides worldwide, even though the legal marrying age in India is 21 for men and 18 for women, as established by the 2006 Prohibition of Child Marriage Act.

The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act did not cause a significant decrease in the amount of child marriages that take place in India, where 47% of girls marry before the age of 18. Child marriage in India is more common in rural areas, where 56% of girls marry before the age of 18, than they are in urban areas, where 29% of girls marry before 18.

Societal traditions and norms allow child marriage to persist despite its illegality. Many brides are forced to marry early because the later they are married, the larger their dowry will have to be. It is still common in India to give a dowry or a present from the bride’s family to the groom’s at the time of marriage, although the practice was banned in 1961.

As The Guardian states, another reason why some parents marry their daughter at a young age is because they fear that their daughter might have sexual relations when she is a teenager, therefore shaming her family and lowering her chances of getting married later on. Child marriage is also widespread because poor families realize that marrying their daughter means that they have one less child to feed, since brides tend to go live with their husband’s family.

Since child marriage is illegal, weddings normally take place in the evening or at night. Police officers are bribed to not report the marriage.

The consequences of child marriage are devastating. Girls who marry young are not able to complete their education and are therefore forced to rely on their husband and his family. Even on the rare occasion that they have the chance to end the marriage, they are often not able to because they have nowhere to go and no way to support themselves. Girls under the age of 15 are also five times more likely to die in childbirth than those over the age of 20. Young brides are also more likely to contract HIV because they are forced to marry older men.

The International Center for Research on Women reports that girls in India who marry under the age of 18 are twice as likely to experience domestic violence. Child brides also experience sexual abuse, and many suffer from PTSD and severe depression.

Some girls are forced to enter a marriage agreement at an extremely young age and then go to live with their husbands when they reach puberty. This was supposed to be the case for Santa Devi Maghwal, an Indian girl from Rajasthan who was married at 11 months old and told that she would have to live with her husband when she turned 16. Maghwal is currently working with child right’s campaigner Kriti Bharti to annul the marriage. Luckily, Maghwal is not the only one who has turned to the law in order to end her marriage. Bharti made history in 2012 when she obtained India’s first annulment of a child marriage for sixteen year old Laxmi Sagara. Since then, Bharti has won 27 more annulments. While divorce is hard to come by in India, since courts are overburdened and take a long time to rule, annulments can be achieved as long as there is some proof — such as a birth or school certificate — that the bride was married before the age of 18.

Bharti has made progress, but India still has a way to go before it can truly end child marriage. For child marriages to end, societal norms and patriarchal customs need to end as well.

– Ashrita Rau

Sources: ICRW, CBN, National Geographic 1, National Geographic 2, UNICEF, Girls not Brides, The Guardian
Photo: Huffington Post

girls not brides
There are girls as young as 13-years-old married off throughout the world. In developing countries, one out of every seven girls is married before her 15th birthday.

Girls married younger than the age of 18 often report that have been beaten by their husbands and forced to have sex. These girls often think it is acceptable for their husbands to beat them and make them feel powerless.

The main reasons for girls being married off include culture and parents’ desire to counteract a fear of their daughter getting molested. Tradition and culture are a big reason for young girls being married off; families are scared to stray from tradition in fear of being excluded from their communities. Poverty is another cause of child marriage. Poor families often marry off their daughters so that they have less expenses. They have one less body to feed, educate and clothe.

Although parents in certain situations marry their daughters off at young ages trying protect them, the young girls are still losing their human rights. They completely lose their childhoods.

Girls Not Brides is an organization working to protect girls from being married at a young age. They give a voice to the voiceless. Members of this organization are based in Africa, America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East; they are united in helping girls reach their full potential and not being married off at a young age.

Girls Not Brides works with 350 other civil organizations from over 60 countries. They believe that partnering up will bring attention to the issue and show that there are others who want to stop young marriages too.

Girls Not Brides reaches out to young girls and helps them feel empowered. They supply young girls with skills that will be useful in the future and have different workshops to show girls how to use their newly learned skills. This program also sets up support groups for young girls and boys to share their experiences so that they can become advocates against child marriage themselves.

Girls Not Brides has put together a technical brief on ending child marriages. Please take a look and see what you can do to help.

Priscilla Rodarte

Sources: Girls Not Brides, Girls Not Brides, Girls Not Brides, Slate
Photo: WUNRN