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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...

New World Bank Report Calls for More Action to Achieve Equality of Girls and Women

A new report released by the World Bank, entitled “Voice and Agency: Empowering Women and Girls for Shared Prosperity” presents new evidence about the key constraints withholding girls and women worldwide from achieving their full potential to benefit their families and communities.

One critical highlighted point is that girls’ access to education plays an essential role in shaping their future and enhancing their ability to implement decisions and choices, even when gender norms are limiting. The report reveals that girls with no access to education are six times more likely to get married as children, causing them to live in extreme poverty and denying them a voice at household level. This contributes to prevalent  levels of gender-based violence—one of the key constraints listed in the report. Read more...

The Power of Story

By Denise Dunning; Originally posted on Huffington Post

Denise Dunning is the Founder and Executive Director of Let Girls Lead and Champions for Change

600 million girls living in poor countries around the world struggle to eat, go to school and see a doctor when they need one. Many of these girls suffer violence in their families and are married off as children to men three times their age. Although research demonstrates that girls are the key to ending global poverty, only two cents out of every dollar in international funding goes to programs supporting girls.

We're working to change that. One of the first and most important steps is changing societies' limiting gender narratives. Jennifer Siebel Newsom's Representation Project has led the movement to transform media representations of women and girls with the award-wining documentary "Miss Representation." The Representation Project has mobilized millions of people to use their voices to challenge the media's limiting portrayal of women and girls.Read more...

Celebrate Solutions: Role-playing Workshops Turn Adolescent Indian Girls Into Leaders

By: Pratik Phadkule, Michael Matheke-Fischer and Casey Mixter, Real Medicine Foundation

Girls in rural India are given little information about the physical, emotional, and social changes that go along with puberty and adolescence, yet proper education and guidance during this developmental phase has critical implications that affect individuals, families and entire communities; Real Medicine Foundation (RMF) has developed a series of workshops to empower adolescent Indian girls and turn them into community leaders, breaking the cycle of poverty and establishing a model for women’s rights in India. 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...

 

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