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Child Marriage-Free Zone

Child marriage-free zones involve groups who campaign in their own communities.

By 2016 this project directly benefited over 900 girls and women in Pakistan alone, with a direct impact on over 3000 community members. The initiative empowered youth groups to campaign against child marriages, trained marriage registrars on the issue and created an online resource for information on the issue.

About the issue of child marriage

Every year 15 million girls under the age of 18 are married. That’s an average of 40,000 girls every day who lose their childhoods and education because they become wives and mothers.

Early or child marriage takes girls out of school. They are very unlikely to return to education. That means they’ll have fewer opportunities to escape poverty and they and their children will be more vulnerable to disease and ill-health.

Two of the most effective ways of preventing early and forced marriages are to ensure that girls stay in school and have access to quality education. Girls with no education are up to six times more likely to marry early than those with a secondary education.

Child marriage-free zones:

  • Empower girls
  • Improve essential health and education services
  • Mobilise families, communities, policymakers and other leaders to take action against child marriages
  • Create and strengthen laws for the reduction and ultimate elimination of child marriages, and enforce their implementation.

Read more about the issue of Child Marriage

About the project in Pakistan

In Pakistan, Theirworld and local organisation Idara- e-Taleem-o-Aagahi created the first child marriage-free zone in the country. When it started in 2014, approximately 40% of girls were getting married before the age of 18.

The project was piloted in Matiari, part of Sindh province, which has one of the highest incidences of child marriages across the country.

The partners worked with the Alliance Against Child Marriages Sindh, a network of over 30 civil society organisations and international non-governmental organisations.

By 2016 the project had directly benefitted over 900 girls and women. And, more widely, we estimate to have reached and had an impact on more than 3000 community members.

Some of the activities included:

  • Setting up youth groups to campaign against child marriages and facilitate interventions
  • Training marriage registrars on how to deal with underage marriages and fill in marriage certificates correctly, as well as teaching them more about local laws
  • Creating a knowledge and portal hub with up-to-date news, research and tools on child marriages.

Work like this is having an effect. In its 2016 report called 'The State of the World’s Children', UNICEF estimated a significant reduction in child marriage to 21%. This is attributed to increased global efforts and co-operation to end child marriages.

Read more on the topic of Child Marriage Free Zones.

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