In recent years child marriage has gained increasing prominence on international and national development agendas. Today, we have a unique opportunity to act on this momentum and accelerate our efforts to help change the lives of girls and young women all over the world.
Ending child marriage requires work across all sectors and at all levels. It requires us to understand the complex drivers behind the practice in different contexts and adapt our interventions accordingly.
Working directly with girls to give them the opportunity to build skills and knowledge, understand and exercise their rights and develop support networks, is an important part of our efforts to end child marriage.
Using an empowerment approach can lead to positive outcomes for girls and their families by supporting girls to become agents of change, helping them envisage what alternative roles could look like in their communities and ultimately helping them to forge their own pathway in life.
Safe space programs
Safe space programs which offer a varied curriculum covering life skills, health and financial literacy can provide girls with an opportunity to build their skills, learn and meet friends and mentors in an informal setting and learn about the services they can access in their community.
Safe space programs can successfully build girls’ self-confidence, agency and self-efficacy, which they need to thrive. They can provide a good alternative for girls who do not have access to formal education such as married girls. Having a safe regular meeting place allows girls to meet with peers and share experiences which can reduce their sense of isolation and vulnerability.
Some of these programs have economic empowerment components, such as conditional cash transfers, or the provision of a goat or chicken, which have proven successful in increasing the age of marriage.
Supporting young people to be agents of change
Supporting young people to be agents of change can be an effective and empowering process in and of itself. Many organizations work with young people so they can advocate for change as well as helping to inform the design of programs that directly benefit their peers.
Youth groups, encouraging dialogue between youth and community leaders, and building the capacity of young people are all ways of supporting young people to be champions of change in their own communities.