More and more girls have dropped out of school because of the pandemic, many of them becoming child brides in place of students. But keeping girls in school and preventing early marriage is one of our president’s top priorities for children this year-end.
When a girl drops out of school, her risk of becoming a child bride goes up immediately. These two things go hand-in-hand. It’s happening all the more often since the pandemic began. And it’s only getting worse.
According to a recent UNICEF report, “Over the next decade, up to 10 million more girls will be at risk of becoming child brides as a result of the pandemic.
In all of the countries where Holt works, early marriage is most common in India .
Last year, our local partners in India reported a rise in early marriage. In Pune, India, they were able to actively stop several underage marriages from happening. Although they were unable to stop five from moving forward.
An Increase in Child Marriages
Before COVID-19 hit India, child marriage had been all but eliminated in these communities where Holt partners worked. But the lockdowns, dangerous waves of COVID-19 and the resulting poverty changed everything.
“A surge is being seen in cases of child marriages — girls below 18 years of age — due to factors including the lockdown,” explains Vaishali Vahikar is the sponsorship director at Bharatiya Samaj Seva Kendra (BSSK), Holt’s long-time partner in Pune. “Lockdown has resulted in the closure of schools, impact on the economy and lack of financial security and uncertainty over families’ livelihoods, which has pushed many into poverty.”
Education Is the Solution
Across India, and over their decades of work with children there, Holt partners have found the most effective way to prevent child marriage from happening: education.
When a family understands the importance of education for their daughter, they do whatever they can to keep her in school, delaying marriage as long as possible.
When a girl is educated, she has the tools she needs to pursue a career, earn and income and someday even rise above poverty. When a girl is empowered like this, she in turn empowers her family and community for generations to come.
Educating girls is world-changing work.
That’s why it’s one of our president’s top priorities this year-end.
How You Can Help
When you give to the President’s Top Priority Fund Campaign for Children 2021, you can choose for your gift to provide education for a girl.
Holt’s year-end top priorities:
- Rush emergency food to hungry children
- Provide nurturing caregivers and supplies for children coming into orphanage care due to COVID-19
- Give medical care and support to children with special needs
- Keep girls in school and protect them from child marriage