Twelve-year-old brides sit outside the Maa Jalpa Devi Temple after their marriage ceremonies in Rajgarh, India, in 2011.
23 July 2014
The United States announced July 22 that it will spend over $4.8 million for 2014 on programs to end child, early and forced marriage in South Asia, Africa and the Near East.
The programs are in Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, India, Nepal, Tanzania and Yemen, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Rajiv Shah said in July 22 news release. The funding will also leverage $32 million as part of integrated USAID programs to address democracy and governance, early-grade reading, and ending child, early and forced marriage.
U.S. congressional leaders have recognized the importance of these efforts, USAID said, and the agency will work alongside lawmakers to increase USAID support in 2015 to prevent child, early and forced marriage.
The programs fund implementation of Ending Child Marriage and Meeting the Needs of Married Children: The USAID Vision for Action, which is an effort to prevent and respond to child, early and forced marriage in regions, countries and communities where interventions are most needed and most likely to achieve results. By partnering with local institutions and community groups, USAID is supporting the voices of change agents at the national, local and community levels seeking to change attitudes and motivations that perpetuate the practice of child, early and forced marriage, which affects an estimated 10 million girls each year.
“We know the fight against child marriage is the fight against extreme poverty,” said Shah. “That’s why USAID has put women and girls at the center of our efforts to answer President Obama’s call to end extreme poverty in two generations. It’s a commitment that reflects a legacy of investment in girls — in their education, in their safety, in their health and in their potential.”
The funding builds on larger support for girls by USAID and the U.S. Department of State through an estimated $800 million for basic education; $164 million to combat gender-based violence; and $48 million to end human trafficking in the 2014 fiscal year.
USAID’s efforts to end child, early and forced marriage include these programs:
• In Bangladesh — Protecting Human Rights aims to reduce child, early and forced marriage through enhancing advocacy initiatives for child marriage legislation and enforcement. In addition, it will aim to increase public awareness and buttress civil participation in shaping policy.
• In Nepal — Safe Schools aims to reduce the prevalence of gender-based violence (GBV) toward children and adolescents in schools. The program plans to accomplish this through decreasing the acceptability of GBV among students, teachers, school administrators and parents while also implementing policies and tools that address and monitor GBV.
• In Yemen — The Yemen Early Marriage Project (YEMP) aims to foster a legal, social and economic environment that discourages child, early and forced marriage. YEMP seeks to achieve this through advocating for the passage of laws that address the cause of child, early and forced marriage, while also increasing public awareness of the developmental, physical and psychological dangers of this practice for girls.
• In Burkina Faso, Ethiopia and Tanzania — USAID is supporting a study to assess the effectiveness of various approaches, including economic incentives, to prevent child, early and forced marriage. Findings of the study that highlight the most effective interventions to prevent and respond to this practice will be shared with other regions affected by the practice.
• In India — The government began implementing a conditional cash transfer program in 1994, which provided families with a small payment upon the birth of a girl as well as a bond redeemable if the girl remained unmarried at the age of 18. A USAID-funded evaluation will provide one of the first impact evaluations in this area to assess the effectiveness of the program in preventing child, early and forced marriage.