“I know the consequences of child marriage. [From The Hunger Project,] We also learnt about the evils of drugs, as well as changes during adolescence. Knowing all of this has given me the courage to protect myself against early marriage. I was able to convince my parents. My marriage is over. Now I can realise my dream of becoming a teacher.”
The Hunger Project runs programs such as ‘Youth Ending Hunger’ in schools in rural Bangladesh. Shania is in year 9 at school and lives in the Naogaon district.
In parts of Bangladesh that are very poor, many families struggle to afford to send their children to school. Because boys tend to be valued more than girls, parents typically pull out girls from school and marry them off, even before the legal age of 18. COVID-19 has compounded an already bad situation: the UN Population Fund estimates an additional 13 million child marriages will occur between 2020-2030 due to the pandemic.
Shania usually rides a bicycle to school. The people of the village did not approve of her behaviour, so they approached her father with a marriage proposal. Shania knew that she had to do something to stop it happening. She had learnt about the negative consequences of child marriage through the ‘Youth Ending Hunger’ program in her school – a program run by school students who have been trained by The Hunger Project to mobilise their classmates around the issue of child marriage.
Because of this knowledge, Shania was able to talk to her parents about the consequences of child marriage, such as the health dangers of giving birth before her body was fully developed and continuing the cycle of malnutrition for her baby. As a result, her parents helped her to stop her marriage, and she was luckily able to remain in school.
It has never been a more critical time to empower girls to stop the harmful practice of child marriage today — invest here.