Written with submissions from Mzikazi Ntuli (ADPP), Edson Rufai (Associação Progresso), Arooj Iftikhar (Bedari), Samwel Gasuku (IAE) and Maheen Malik (SPARC).
#1 Educating women and girls on the effects of child marriages, so they can spread the message to their parents and community.
Educating women and girls on child, early and forced marriage (CEFM) and its impacts is key to empowering women and girls. Our partner, the Institute for Adult Education, in Tanzania shared that education helps to break down the barriers that hinders girls’ achievements, whether political, economic or social. IAE works to make education a part of the daily lives of women and girls, teaching them on their social and legal rights, so they can spread this message to their families and communities.
Our partner, SPARC in Pakistan, also highlighted the importance of education in ending CEFM. SPARC offers women and girls and their mothers life-skills based trainings, which has increased awareness around issues of CEFM and made the girls confident and empowered with a knowledge of their rights. Their training centres and the staff facilitate the women and girls and serve as a support system for them.
#2 Empowering girls with vocational skills and access to financial services.
Giving women and girls practical skills and opportunity to be financially independent is another way GIRLS Inspire is contributing to ending CEFM. For example, SPARC’s vocational training centres give women and girls technical and vocational training so they can attain marketable skills and seek gainful employment. In Mozambique, our partner Associação Progresso highlighted that they are connecting women and girls to savings opportunities. With these savings the women and girls can develop small businesses and open bank accounts.
#3 Engaging Communities to Break Down Barriers and Build Community Support Networks.
A resounding message from all the GIRLS Inspire partners is the need to work with communities to change mindsets and encourage support for women’s and girls’ education. Engaging communities for change takes many forms. Progresso says, “One of the barriers for the prevention of early and forced marriages in Niassa communities is the cultural aspects. We use community radios and organize round tables with members of government, non-governmental organizations, community leaders, and initiation rites matrons to seek consensus on the need to adapt initiation rites and influence communities and their leaders to change attitudes.”
#4 Advocating for Change within Countries at all Levels
Our GIRLS Inspire partners work to break down barriers through advocacy at local, national and international levels. Our partner, Bedari in Pakistan, is advocating for raising the age of marriage for girls from 16 to 18 years at the time of marriage. Bedari advocates at the community level with opinion makers, local government officials, doctors, teachers and academia. To build networks, Bedari takes part in different forums such as the Child Rights Movement (CRM), Ending Violence Against Women and
Girls (EVAWG) and National Action and Coordination Group (NACG). The organisation also lobbies and advocates with current ministers, opposition leaders and senate at the national level. Through these platforms Bedari conveys its message for raising the age of girls for marriage.
#5 Participating in International Awareness Day
Participating in International Awareness days is another way GIRLS Inspire advocates for change. ADPP is developing an advocacy video for International Women’s Day coming up on March 8th. They are collating stories from the women and girls, that have experienced CEFM firsthand, to produce an inspirational and impactful film to mobilize different audiences and prevent child marriage. This 6-minute film will be played in one of the national television stations in Mozambique to engage a wider audience in joining the fight to end CEFM. GIRLS Inspire has participated in many international awareness campaigns, such as 16 Days of Activism, International Day of the Girl Child and International Women’s Day. Watch the GIRLS Inspire International Day of the Girl video: