Preventing Child Marriage and Gender-Based Violence Through Education
Although child marriage has a negative impact on boys and girls alike, the consequences are much more severe for girls and young women who often lack the status and power within their marriages and their households. As a result, they are more likely to experience domestic violence, sexual abuse, and isolation from their families and communities.
Plan sees child marriage as a serious violation of child rights and a barrier to child development and to coincide with the 57th session on the Commission for the Status on Women’s theme, “the elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls,” Plan International and the Government of Bangladesh are co-sponsoring a side event on the 13th of March in New York City.
Entitled, "Empowering Girls through Education–a Pathway to STOP Child Marriage and Eliminate Violence against Girls and Women," the event will highlight the prevalence of child marriages in Bangladesh where 66 percent of girls are married by the age of 18. The event also seeks to:
- Raise awareness on the significance of the issue of child marriage in South Asia and negative impact that it has on girls and young women
- Review the existing national policies and legal frameworks in Bangladesh to prevent, protect, and ensure opportunities for girls
- Discuss the various dimensions of child marriage in Asia
- Share key study findings which highlight promising practices in delaying the age of marriage for girls
- Build strategic alliances and partnerships between global, national, and regional actors with a shared interest in eliminating child marriage and violence against women and girls
Dr. Christine Sow, Vice President for International Programs at Plan International USA will provide key remarks to set the stage for the panel presentations. Tanushree Soni of Plan’s Asia Regional Office and Mobasher Hossain of Plan Bangladesh will also represent Plan in sharing the key findings highlighted the report, “Child Marriage in Bangladesh, India, and Nepal; a three-country study” and will share promising program practices that have empowered children to say “no” to child marriage and to address the issue of domestic violence faced by child brides and other women. Emerging trends and recommendations will also be discussed.
In addition to Plan experts, representatives from the government of Bangladesh will include: the Bangladesh Ambassador to the UN, H.E. Dr. A.K. Abdul Momen; the Bangladesh Minister for Women and Children’s Affairs, Her Excellency Dr. Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury MP; and Dr. Abul Hossain of the Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs.
Other key speakers from the International Center for Research on Women and the United Nations Population Fund will also be in attendance to discuss the causes, consequences, and challenges surrounding child marriage and their recommendations in its prevention.
Panelists in attendance at the event will include: Professor Momtaz Begum of Jatiya Mahila Sangstha, Bangladesh; Dr. Ravi Verma of ICRW; Dr. Anju Malhotra of UNICEF; and Ms. Salma Hamid of UNFPA. Representatives of Member States, UN Agencies, non-governmental organizations, and donors will also be in attendance.
About Our Programs
The USAID-funded Bangladesh Protecting Human Rights (PHR) Project
Protecting Human Rights (PHR) is a five-year program funded by the United States Agency for International Development's Bangladesh Mission. The project is entering its third year of implementation by Plan International Bangladesh. PHR focuses on advocacy for legislative reform and enforcement to reduce domestic violence; capacity building for key-actors involved with the protection and promotion of human rights; increasing access to justice; providing survivor services; and advancing public education and outreach. The PHR program supports the survivors of human rights and domestic violence abuse in Bangladesh. The program is defined in three major pillars: Prevention, Protection, and Prosecution. The goal is to reduce the prevalence of domestic violence and other related human rights abuses in targeted areas of Bangladesh. Specifically, the project aims to:
- Improve the quality of advocacy for the adoption and enforcement of key domestic violence and human rights legislation and policies
- Improve the mutual understanding and effectiveness between key actors involved in reducing violence and strengthening responses to other interwoven human rights abuses
- Increase access to and willingness of survivors to seek justice through formal and informal sectors
- Expand immediate and long-term support to survivors of domestic violence, and
- Increase awareness of domestic violence and related human rights issues at the national and local levels
To accomplish these objectives, the five-year PHR program connects with local and national government representatives, non-governmental organizations, citizens, and community leaders. In collaboration, these leaders spearhead efforts to eradicate domestic violence and human rights abuses and child trafficking-in. In addition to these efforts, the PHR program engages all layers of society to act as change agents to curb violence through the victim protection, perpetrator prosecution, and reverses the damage caused by gender-based violence.
The Asia Child Marriage Initiative (ACMI) Study
To probe deeper into the various dimensions of child marriage and to understand the efficacy of Plan’s child-centered community development approach based interventions in delaying the age of marriage, Plan Asia Regional office in collaboration with its country offices in Bangladesh, Nepal, and India, and the International Centre for Research on Women undertook a qualitative study. The Asia Child Marriage Initiative Study (ACMI) addresses child marriage across the dimensions of a child’s life – the individual child, and the influences at the family, community, and national levels. Dominant social, economic, and cultural factors that shape children’s lives are also factors. ACMI programs use a number of approaches to address child marriage. These approaches include:
- The intervention of community-based child protection mechanisms when girls are at risk of abuse or child marriage
- Life skills education, peer education training, and economic and legal empowerment for Girls’ economic
- Community, youth, and family mobilization and campaign creation
- Behavior change communications centered around girls’ rights
- Support of advocacy networks, coalitions, and men’s groups
- Promotion of Universal Birth Registration, civil servant training in the application of marriage laws, and policy advocacy to close loopholes in marriage registration
- Collaboration with schools to support girls’ access to secondary education, including training and curriculum support in preventing child marriage