Today, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Rajiv Shah announced over $4.8 million this year to fund programs in Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, India, Nepal, Tanzania, and Yemen to end child, early, and forced marriage. Congressional leaders have also recognized the importance of these efforts, and USAID will work alongside lawmakers to increase the agency’s support next year to prevent child, early, and forced marriage. These efforts will also leverage $32 million as part of integrated USAID programs to address democracy and governance, early grade reading, and end child, early, and forced marriage.
The programs support implementation of Ending Child Marriage & Meeting the Needs of Married Children: The USAID Vision for Action 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 Administrator 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 announcement builds on larger support for girls by USAID and the Department of State through an estimated $800 million in basic education; $164 million to combat gender-based violence; and $48 million to end human trafficking in this fiscal year.
USAID programs to end child, early, and forced marriage include:
- In Bangladesh Protecting Human Rights aspires to reduce child, early, and forced marriage through enhancing advocacy initiatives for child marriage legislation and enforcement. In addition, “Protecting Human Rights,” will aim to increase public awareness and buttress civil participation in shaping policy.
- In Nepal Safe Schools aspires 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 amongst students, teachers, school administrators and parents while also implementing policies and tools that address and monitor GBV.
- 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 impacted 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.