For many families, marrying a daughter is a desperate response to extreme circumstances. In many, war can be the catalyst. UNICEF's most recent data suggests that early marriage often increases in huge numbers in the immediate aftermath of conflict. This is a consequence we are fighting to eradicate.
Conflict can take many forms, including local violence, religious and civil wars and terrorist invasions. Last year, the non-profit organisation IRIN compiled a stunning interactive map highlighting all of the conflicts unfolding around the world right now. It demonstrated that there are more than 40 active wars taking place, many of which are neglected by the world’s media and policy attention. The impact of these conflicts on the lives of the millions who live amongst them can be devastating.
Women and War
Women and girls can be particularly vulnerable to the negative societal outcomes of war. Increased poverty, persistent gender inequality and insecurity, and a lack of education can put girls at greater risk of child marriage during times of crisis.
According to Plan International UK, a report from the International Rescue Committee Commission on Syrian refugees highlights child marriages taking place in refugee camps as parents try to protect their daughters from the risk of being raped and to ‘safeguard their honour’ if they are sexually assaulted. The report also found that the poverty faced by those living in the camps is driving parents to enter their children into marriage in order to pay rent or reduce household numbers.
Another example comes from Somalia, where World Vision found that in the midst of civil war, girls are often married off to protect them from the risk of shame that comes with sexual assault. Similarly, decades of civil war in South Sudan has left the country wracked by conflict, and over 2.2 million people seeking refuge in neighbouring nations. At Brides Do Good, we are working on a project to support many of the refugees that now reside in Ethiopia - 65% of whom are children. Through our work, we support the Safe Schools for Refugees in Ethiopia programme, protecting the lives and childhoods of many girls displaced by war.
How To Help
In addition to our regular projects, and in the lead up to International Women’s Day on Friday 8th March, we're sending a message of support to women survivors of war. By joining hands with the incredible people at Women for Women International, we’re asking our community to help send a message of hope, friendship and sisterhood.
Last year, over 1,200 supporters from 61 countries sent messages of support to women survivors of war around the world. You can do your bit by applying for a free postcard through their website, and sharing your #MessageToMySister on social media to inspire your network to write their own message of solidarity.
Join with us on Instagram @Brides_Do_Good to keep up with the campaign ahead of International Women’s Day, and tag us in your #MessageToMySister. Together we can be a source of strength for hundreds of women around the globe.