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Girls Not Brides: Ending Child Marriage

Girls Not Brides is an organization that seeks to end child marriage. It defines child marriage as “any formal marriage or informal union where one or both of the parties are under 18 years of age.” According to the organization’s statistics, 15 million girls are married before the age of 18.

This means that 28 girls under the age of 18 are married every minute, and 1 every 2 seconds. This is a huge number, and one that is incredibly troubling.

The problem of child marriage spans across various countries, cultures, and religions. Girls Not Brides states that, “At its heart, child marriage is rooted in gender inequality and the belief that girls and women are somehow inferior to boys and men. In many communities where child marriage is practiced, girls are not valued as much as boys – they are seen as a burden on their family. Marrying your daughter at a young age can be viewed as a way to ease economic hardship by transferring this ‘burden’ to her husband’s family.”

Furthermore, marrying off young girls exacerbates the obvious gender inequality that is placing men above women, as these girls are then unable to make their own lives and careers. As wives, many are given limited opportunities to pursue further education and to follow their own dreams.

There is some cultural evidence to indicate that marrying girls young also stems from an attempt to control female sexuality: “Child marriage is also driven by patriarchal values and the desire to control female sexuality, for instance, how a girl should behave, how she should dress, who she should be allowed to see, to marry, etc.”

Girls Not Brides is a global partnership that is made up of over 700 civil society organizations from more than 90 countries around the world. Its aim is to end child marriage and enable girls to fulfill their potentials.

Girls Not Brides believes that “every girl has the right to lead the life that she chooses and that, by ending child marriage, we can achieve a safer, healthier and more prosperous future for all.”

The organization was founded in September 2011 by The Elders, a group of independent global leaders working for human rights. The Elders have four stated core aims: to raise awareness of the harmful impact of child marriage by starting open conversations at all levels, to facilitate the coordination of various organizations working towards the end of child marriage, to mobilize policy, and to do all of this by working together.

Girls Not Brides was founded on the understanding that working together is more effective than working alone. By combining multiple voices, all working towards the same thing, the organization has been able to create one strong and united voice.

You can add your voice to this cause by signing a petition, donating, or speaking up about the facts. Visibility can be as important as money for a cause like this. By speaking up about Girls Not Brides, you can spread the message and add more voices to the cause.

Featured Image by DFID – UK Department for International Development on  Flickr
Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

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