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For a Better World for All

By: Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director, UNFPA and Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director, UN Women; Originally posted on The Huffington Post

It is now 100 long days since the abduction of 276 girls from their school in Chibok in northern Nigeria shocked and outraged the world. While a few of the girls have managed to escape their captors, the majority remain separated from their shattered families.

It is the nature of news - and, sadly, terrible events happening elsewhere -- that the Chibok girls, and indeed, more Nigerian girls who have been kidnapped since, are no longer in the global spotlight. We must not forget them, and we must keep demanding action to bring back our girls. Read more...

When You Invest In Girls and Women, Everybody Wins

By: Katja Iversen; Originally posted by Huffington Post

Katja Iversen is the CEO of Women Deliver

After she got married, she had to drop out of 7th grade.

This is the beginning of a story I heard at the +SocialGood event last month from Miriam Enerstrida, a young woman who escaped child marriage in Zambia. When she was in 7th grade, Miriam was sold into marriage. Her husband's family kept her in their basement, naked, so she could not run away. When she asked about going back to school, she said she was beaten and they made her repeat the phrase "school is for boys and not for the girl child."

I'm sure just by reading this you can tell what is wrong here. Although marriage below the age of 18 is not permitted in most countries, social norms and discriminatory laws often allow the practice to continue even where laws are on the books. Every day, 39,000 girls under the age of 18 will be forced into early marriage. One in seven girls living in developing countries is married before her 15th birthday.

The real question is: Why?

Child marriage is not only wrong from a legal and human rights perspective, but also from a broader economic and developmental perspective. When girls are married young, they are more likely to drop out of school; more likely to acquire HIV and other sexually-transmitted infections; and more likely to live their lives in poverty - a poverty that often is passed on to their children. Read more...

Celebrate Solutions: A True Story of A Child Bride from New York

By: Tyler LePard; Catapult

This year, 14 million girls – some as young as eight years old – will be married against their will, often to men decades older than themselves. Some girls are so young that they hold on to their toys during the wedding ceremony. The recent death of an eight year old Yemeni girl on her wedding night from internal bleeding, after a forced marriage to a man five times her age has caused a global outcry and re-energized commitment to ending this horrific human rights abuse. Read more...

Jagoroni: The Rising of a Movement against Dowry and Early Marriage

These seed grants were funded by Johnson & Johnson and WomanCare Global via the Women Deliver C Exchange Youth Initiative.

By: SM Shaikat, SERAC-Bangladesh

Early marriage and dowry-related violence are harmful practices, but they are common in Bangladesh. When girls marry, they often drop out of school and have limited social interaction. Currently, just 45% of adolescent girls are enrolled in secondary school, and even fewer attend regularly. Domestic violence occurs all too often and with impunity. From January to September 2013, 265 cases of violence against women occurred; 128 women died from physical torture, but just 111 cases were filed against the perpetrators.

Most cases of marriage-related violence are never reported and some are intentionally covered up. Until recently, no group existed in Bangladesh that could track and prevent these types of gender violence. To address this situation, I developed a project called Jagoroni, a Bengali word that means “rising.” I’m creating a youth-led watchdog system to eliminate dowry- and child marriage-related violence against girls and women in Mymensingh district, which has the highest rates of violence in the country. Read more...

We Have the Power to End Child Marriage

These seed grants were funded by Johnson & Johnson and WomanCare Global via the Women Deliver C Exchange Youth Initiative.

By; Yemurai Nyoni, Bulawayo Youth Development Organization (Zimbabwe)

When Tecla woke up, she carried out her chores with a little more urgency than usual. She was starting a new job to raise money for her school fees, so she couldn’t afford to be late. When she had finished collecting water, cleaning the house and preparing breakfast, she left with her mother to meet her employers.

As they walked together, she felt happy. The money she would earn as a maid would help her parents send her to school. She would be like the other children in Epworth. She could play games, listen to exciting stories and achieve her dream of being a teacher. As her thoughts turned into a pleasant day-dream, she was brought back to reality by her mother’s voice as she said nervously, “tasvika” (we’ve arrived).

Now her joy turned to fear, because of the tone of her mother’s voice, but also as she thought of the enormity of the task ahead. She was going to be a maid for a family she had never met, and at 12 years old, she felt she wasn’t ready. Nonetheless, she followed obediently behind her mother, the woman who had sacrificed so much for her. Read more...

Youth-Led Project in Bangladesh Wins Online Voting Competition

Women Deliver is pleased to announce the “Social Rising for Dowry and Early Marriage Prevention” project by S M Shaikat from Bangladesh as the winner of the C-Exchange Seed Grant competition. After almost 1,500 people voted, S M Shaikat will receive an additional US$500 to implement his project to monitor and prevent early marriage and dowry violence. This competition was held with the support of the Women Deliver C-Exchange, a Women Deliver-led private sector forum that includes Johnson & Johnson, WomanCare Global, Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals, GE, HRA Pharma Foundation, MTV Staying Alive Foundation, and Merck (known as MSD outside the United States). Read more...

Denise Dunning Unlocks Girl Power Through Let Girls Lead

By: Stacy Teicher Khadaroo; Originally posted by The Christian Science Monitor

To help girls stay in school, women and girls in Malawi are taking a stand against child marriages. So far they have persuaded leaders in 22 villages to penalize men who try to marry a woman under age 21. One possible penalty? Taking away some of the man's goats or chickens.

It's the kind of strategy that probably wouldn't have occurred to a US-based nonprofit. But in countries where girls and women bear the brunt of poverty, Let Girls Lead, an Oakland, Calif.-based initiative founded by Denise Dunning, helps them amplify their voices and broaden their hopes, turning small victories into large-scale changes. Read more...

CFR Launches Interactive Guide on Child Marriage

Originally posted by Council on Foreign Relations

A new interactive guide from the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) examines the threat that child marriage poses both to the prosperity and stability of the countries in which it is prevalent and to U.S. development and foreign policy interests. "Child marriage is linked to poor health, curtailed education, violence, and instability, and perpetuates an intergenerational cycle of poverty that is difficult to break, as the InfoGuide shows," said CFR Fellow for Women and Foreign Policy Rachel B. Vogelstein, formerly director of policy and senior adviser on global women's issues at the U.S. State Department. "Its effects harm not only girls but entire families, communities, and economies—and U.S. interests around the world." Read more...

African Ministers of Health and Education Commit to End Child Marriage by 2020

By: Yemurai Nyoni, WD 100 Young Leader and Youth SRHR Advocate; Originally posted by FHI 360

Ministers of Health and Education from 21 countries in the East and Southern African region have committed to end child marriage as part of a broader commitment to ensure comprehensive sexuality education for young people in the region by 2015. The commitment was endorsed on the 7th of December 2013 during the on-going 17th International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa and is titled the ‘Ministerial Commitment on comprehensive sexuality education and sexual and reproductive health services for adolescents and young people in Eastern and Southern African (ESA). Read more...

Ending Motherhood in Childhood

By: Lynn ElHarake, Council on Foreign Relations; Originally posted by Council on Foreign Relations

Emerging Voices features contributions from scholars and practitioners highlighting new research, thinking, and approaches to development challenges. This article is by Lynn ElHarake, research associate for CFR’s Women and Foreign Policy Program. Here she discusses how motherhood in childhood undermines economic growth, health, gender equality, and development.

Last month, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) published a report on the tragic consequences of unplanned adolescent pregnancies around the world. The report, Motherhood in Childhood: Facing the challenge of adolescent pregnancy, begins with a sober introduction by UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin. He writes, “When a girl becomes pregnant, her present and future change radically, and rarely for the better. Her education may end, her job prospects evaporate, and her vulnerabilities to poverty, exclusion and dependency multiply.” Read more...

On the International Day of the Girl, a Reminder to Let Girls Lead

By: Joanna Hoffman, Women Deliver

Today marks the second-ever International Day of the Girl, a call to action for the rights of girls worldwide. This year’s theme, “Innovating for Girls’ Education”, is representative of current global development needs, all of which center around girls’ access to education. When girls are educated, they are less likely to become child brides, less likely to die during pregnancy or childbirth, less likely to be infected with HIV, and more likely to have healthy children and long, empowered lives. Simply put, educating girls is a win for the entire world. Read more...

The World We Want: An End to Child Marriage

Originally posted on Girls Not Brides

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has recommended that a new agenda for international development should ensure the empowerment, wellbeing and social protection of the world’s most vulnerable people. In a commentary for the renowned medical journal The Lancet, three prominent figures in international development argue that to translate these principles into action and tangible results, we must end child marriage. Read more...

Media coverage of child marriage in Malaysia – Reflections

By: Nicole Helwig,  Malaysian Child Resource Institute; Originally posted by Girls Not Brides

Child marriage has been hitting the headlines in Malaysia. In 2010, for example, the cases of a 10 and an 11 year-old girl who had been married to men in their 40s made national news. More recently, rape charges were dropped when in May this year, a 13 year-old girl reportedly ‘agreed’ to marry her 40 year-old alleged aggressor.  The press reported that permission was granted for the marriage by an Islamic court, generating heated reactions. These cases do help to raise awareness that the practice of child marriage is a problem in Malaysia. After all, it is too often denied that child marriage is even an issue in this country. Read more...

Celebrate Solutions: Investing in Girls’ Futures

By: Kristin Lindsey, Chief Executive Officer, The Global Fund for Children

Women as a whole have made great strides towards equality, but the fact remains that too many girls in the developing world live in circumstances that are unfair at best, and dangerous at worst. Who are these vulnerable girls? They are child brides. Roughly one-third of all girls in developing nations are married before they turn 18, and in certain countries the number climbs even higher. What does the future hold for a child bride? A lifetime of illiteracy and a drastically increased risk of dying from complications during pregnancy or childbirth. Read more...

The Twitter Chat: Girls and Women As Catalysts for Change

Girls and women are catalysts for change (#girls4change). When girls and women are educated, healthy, and empowered, they invest back into their families, communities, and nations. We know it’s true – when girls and women survive, the world thrives. That’s why we want to make sure girls and women are a focal point in the TEDxChange 2013 discussions. Read more...

Women Deliver Joins Calls for Action to End Child Marriage Globally

As the world celebrates the first International Day of the Girl Child, Women Deliver Launches Catapult Crowdfunding Platform

  • United Nations chooses child marriage as theme for International Day of the Girl Child
  • Activities planned around the world to highlight urgent need for action
  • Women Deliver launches Catapult – the first online funding platform solely dedicated to advancing the lives of girls and women.

On the inaugural International Day of the Girl Child, Women Deliver calls for urgent action to address child marriage worldwide. Every day globally, 25,000 girls are robbed of their childhood.  Read more...

Celebrate Solutions: Educating Girls for a Brighter Future

By: Joanna Hoffman, Women Deliver

This Thursday, we celebrate the first ever International Day of the Girl, a global call to action to advocate for girls’ rights. In 2011, the United Nations General Assembly voted to establish this day to raise awareness on the issues girls face every day, promote girls’ rights, and highlight gender inequality. Girls Not Brides and its members in more than 30 countries are marking this day with action. Read more...

Celebrate Solutions: Berhane Hewan Prevents Child Marriage in Rural Ethiopia

By: Harshi Hettige, Women Deliver

“I hate early marriage. I was married at an early age and my in-laws forced me to sleep with my husband and he made me suffer all night. After that, whenever it starts to get dark, I get worried, thinking that it will be like that. This is what I hate most.”
11-year old girl from Amhara region, Ethiopia. Married at age 5, lost her virginity at age 9.

The Berhane Hewan (“Light for Eve” in Amharic) project was established to help girls like this one by providing best practices to protect them from early marriage and supporting those who are already married. Read more...

Early Marriage Robs Children of Their Opportunities

By: Graça Machel and Desmond Tutu; Originally posted on Washington Post

Graça Machel was the first education minister of Mozambique. Desmond Tutu is archbishop emeritus of Cape Town and a Nobel Peace Prize laureate. They are members of The Elders, a group of independent leaders working for peace and human rights.

“If adults know child marriage is wrong, why do they allow it to happen?” a teenage girl asked one of us during a visit this year to Bihar , a state in northeast India where, despite national law to the contrary, 69 percent of girls are married before age 18. Read more...

Ford Foundation Launches Child Marriage Map and Partner Index

The Ford Foundation, in partnership with the Girls Not Brides campaign, has recently shared their child marriage interactive map, and partner index of Girls Not Brides member organizations. The map is linked to the recent article from Time magazine titled, “Why Is It So Hard to Combat Child Marriage?

The website examines 30 countries with the highest rates of child marriage, and offers some alarming statistics: “Across the developing world, more than one-third of girls are married by age 18, and one in seven is married by age 15, with devastating effects on girls’ health, education, earning power and independence.” Read more...

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