CCFC project engages communities in protecting children from early, forced marriages
By Sandra Upeslacis, director, strategic communications
Ask a teenaged girl if she is willing to put her reproductive health at risk, limit her opportunities for education and quash her future economic independence. You’re likely to hear a resounding “No!” In India, where rates of child marriage are high, Christian Children’s Fund of Canada (CCFC) gave a voice to children and teens to help raise awareness about the harmful practice.
A project spanning 32 villages in the districts of Prakasam and Guntur in Andhra Pradesh reached 9,000 people. Children took part in the initiative, which empowered them as rights-holders, and parents and other stakeholders were empowered as duty-bearers to protect the younger generation’s rights, too.
From dramatic street performances starring the children to gender-equality training, discussions between children and their parents about why child marriage is wrong and the promotion of clubs for positive interaction, the project was a success.
Children and youth quickly understood and articulated their rights, leading the activities themselves. They demanded that the existing child-protection system must function effectively and they prevented child marriages in their villages. They encouraged their parents, influential leaders and other community members to become involved in a child-protection system and to sign a declaration that they will not conduct or support child early, forced marriage.
Like most other countries, the legal age of marriage in India is 18. But longstanding cultural and religious practices, limited options for poor families and discrimination against girls have contributed to forcing millions of girls into child marriages.
For girls in the villages of Prakasam and Guntur, thanks to the support of CCFC donors, their prospects for a future of their choosing are now much brighter. And, an educational model has been developed to create similar outcomes for other girls in like-minded communities, too.
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About Christian Children’s Fund of Canada:
Christian Children’s Fund of Canada works globally to support children and youth who dream of a better world. For nearly 60 years, we’ve brought together diverse people and partnerships, driven by a common belief: education extends beyond the walls of a classroom and is the most powerful tool children can use to change their world. We focus on breaking barriers preventing access to inclusive, quality education for all, especially girls.