Supporting women and girls in the developing world, so they can reach their full potential.
When Naza visited Afghanistan, she met a 14-year-old child bride. At first, Naza thought she was holding her baby sister in her arms, but it was her own 6 month-old baby.
She was married to a 49-year-old man, and her eyes began to swell with tears at the mention of her own parents. Stories of young girls with lost childhoods are what drives Naza to raise awareness about child marriage, and to advocate for women’s rights.
There are 12 million child brides across the world, in places where poverty is widespread and access to education is low.
Many girls who become brides are taken out of school, and have very little prospect of completing their education. At the same time, a lack of access to quality education increases the likelihood of early forced marriage. Girls with no education are 6 x more likely to marry underage. It is essential that girls can stay in education, so they can live out their childhoods, and fulfill their potential. Child marriage is not just an issue for the individual girls; each time a girl misses out on her education, her family and community miss out on her potential contributions, of which there could be no limits.
In times of crisis, girls become even more vulnerable to exploitation, and are more likely to be forced into child marriage.
It can often be seen as a strategy for short-term financial security, to ensure the survival of their family members, or as a way to protect and provide for their daughters.
The expectation that a girl’s future lies with motherhood and marriage limits opportunities, perpetuates a cycle of poverty and can lead to abuse. The answer to ending child marriage and protecting girls’ futures always lies with keeping girls in school.
When it comes to underage childbirth, the statistics speak volumes about the risks faced by the young mothers and their babies.
If girls could stay in keep our girls in education, we could teach them about contraception and safe sex, and prevent complications from childbirth being the number one killer of teenage girls. We could reduce the infant mortality rate by 49%.
It is understandable why Naza is such a passionate supporter of girls’ education, supporting the construction and renovation of girls’ schools, and investing in ambitious education programs that inspire young women.
Unfortunately, in the short-term, COVID-19 has had a catastrophic impact. Millions more people have been plunged into poverty, and a half a million more girls became child brides. S.A.G.E Innovation Centre launched a social campaign and a film to raise awareness of child marriage during Women’s History Month. Naza collaborated with UNICEF to raise funds for child protection, psychosocial care and education programs in Yemen, where 4 million girls have been forced into child marriage.