Education is Empowerment
Currently, around 130 million girls around the world do not have access to safe, quality education. Every year, 12 million girls are married before the age of 18 - that's nearly one every two seconds.
These two statistics are closely linked. The relationship between education and child marriage is twofold. Many girls who become brides are taken out of school, and many more become child brides due to a lack of safe, sustainable education.
Through our charity projects, we are striving to change the future for countless girls, and ensure they have the support needed to stay in school, and the tools required to build brighter futures for generations to come. Put simply, education is life-changing. Through educating girls, we can empower change.
Education is Prevention
According to a recent report by the World Bank, each additional year of secondary school education reduces the likelihood of marrying before the age of 18 by 5% - and more in many countries. Girls with no education are up to six times more likely to marry early than those with a secondary education. Last year in sub-Saharan Africa, 66% of women with no education were married before age 18, compared to 13% of those who went to school after the age of 12.
The end of a girl’s education often means the destruction of her ability to ever be financially independent. This places many young girls at risk of manipulation, exploitation, and violence. Violence in child marriage often manifests itself to Girls Not Brides, girls who marry before 15 are 50% more likely to face physical or sexual violence from a partner. Child brides are also more likely to believe that a man is justified in beating his wife. Globally, 44% of girls aged 15-19 think a husband or partner is justified in hitting or beating his wife or partner.
Education is Progress
Poverty is a key motivating factor for the continuation of child marriage. For many families, marrying a daughter is an attempt to establish a secure financial future for the child. In other cultures, the dowry system encourages families to effectively sell their daughter into marriage in return for desperately needed funds for the rest of the family. The dowry system is largely the manifestation of patriarchal societies, where men are considered superior to women, and women as property to be owned. In today’s world, more than 41,000 girls under the age of 18 are forced to marry every day.
However, putting an end to the practice would increase women’s expected educational attainment, and with it, their potential earnings. According to estimates, ending child marriage could generate more than £390 billion to the global economy each year. Keeping girls in education gives them hope for safety and security, and the chance to take control of their own future. It helps to end cycles of poverty created by child marriage, and allivate the desperation of impoverished communities.
Change is Possible
Recently, we spoke to Faith, who was just 14 years old when her parents took her to a doctor to be cut. Faith is now 16 years old, and lives in a small village in Upper Egypt, where her own mother was forced to marry when she was just 12. Following generations of inequality, Faith is now determined to protect her younger sisters from harmful traditional practices such as female genital mutilation (FGM) and child marriage.
Faith is attending regular training sessions by one of our charity partners Plan International UK, and funded with support from Brides do Good. During the sessions young women and girls learn about gender inequality, gender-based violence and the harmful consequences of FGM and child marriage. They also learn about the importance of staying in school, raising healthy children, pregnancy and neo-natal health, vaccinations, first aid and various other issues that affect women and girls in their communities.
Faith loves attending the sessions and has told us she feels much better equipped to become a mother herself in the future. She is adamant she will never allow her daughters to undergo FGM and that she will ensure all her children treat each other with respect and complete their education.
Faith is extremely concerned for her younger sisters who have yet to be cut. Using the knowledge she has gained, Faith is now dedicated to ensuring that future generations of girls in her community will be treated with respect, and allowed to complete their education. She is trying to convince her mother to protect her sisters from FGM and child marriage. So far, her mother is prepared to listen, and Faith is hopeful that if she keeps trying she will permanently change her mother’s mind.
““My sisters and I have the right to grow up healthy and happy, and in charge of our own
future.” - Faith.