Founded in 1937, Plan International is a development and humanitarian organization that advances children’s rights and equality for girls. We strive for a just world, working together with children, young people, our supporters and partners.
We tackle the root causes of inequality that girls face that deny them their rights at every level: international, national, and local.
We see clear links between fulfilling children’s rights, achieving gender equality and ending child poverty. Every girl and boy has the right to be healthy, educated, protected, valued and respected in their own community and beyond.
Bangladesh marries off more girls under 15 than any other country in the world. According to UNICEF’s State of the World’s Children Report, 2016; 52% of girls in Bangladesh are married by their 18th birthday and 18% by the age of 15. Whereas nationally 34.3% of girls age 15-19 are married, the highest prevalence in the country can be found in Jhalokati and Bhola communities.
In Bangladesh, traditional beliefs like protecting a girl’s ‘honour’ often push parents to marry their daughters at a young age with girls from poorer families are especially vulnerable. In Bangladesh marriage is considered necessary and inevitable, and parents consider it their responsibility to marry their daughters and protect their chastity until they are married. Early marriage ensures an honorable discharge from this duty. Since the primary roles for women are believed to be wives and mothers, parents see little merit in delaying a girl’s marriage once she is old enough to take on these roles. For girls, marriage is seen as the only way to achieve social status.
The ultimate objective of the project is reduced vulnerability of adolescents, particularly girls, to combat child, early and forced marriage (CEFM) in Bhola and Jhalokati communities with a specific focus on reducing the number of girls married under the ages of 18.
This 4.5 year project ending in September 2022, will tackle the issue of child, early and forced marriage in Bangladesh by:
- 1. Increasing the agency of adolescent girls and boys to protect themselves from harmful gender norms and practices, including CEFM, and exercise choice about their futures via enhanced economic empowerment, knowledge and capacity
- 2. Improve community acceptance of norms that value the girl child and actions that support girls and boys to delay marriage by building the ability and capacity of champion fathers, mothers, and community gatekeepers
- 3. Increasing the responsiveness of duty bearers at national, district and sub-district levels to prevent and respond to child rights violations, particularly CEFM by using online marriage registration systems and age verification mobile apps.
The project will work with in-school adolescent girls and boys, out-of-school adolescent girls and boys and married girls, as well as adolescent girls’ families and communities targeting 6,000 out-of-school girls, 10,000 out-of-school boys, 90,021 in-school girls and 94,449 in-school boys across Bhola and Jhalokati. At the national level the project will target 90,000 matchmakers and informal marriage solemnizers and 7,200 marriage registrars in 59 communities. In total, the project will directly reach 297,670 people in Bangladesh!
Eddy K’s contributions will support the following activities:
- Train adolescent girls and family members on small enterprise development, business skills, savings and how to conduct a market scan for their enterprise
- Train out-of-school adolescent girls and boys on gender stereotypes, value of girls and stigma against girls
- Train teachers on Gender Equity Movement in Schools and adolescent sexual and reproductive health education
- Sports, games and events to be held with messaging on girl’s rights and early marriage that challenge gender stereotypes for adolescent girls and boys
- Sessions with Champion Fathers and Mothers and other parents in the community on CEFM prevention and understanding value of girls
Meetings with Min. of Education to sign MOU on delivery of Gender Equity Movement in Schools and adolescent sexual and reproductive health education in secondary schools and Dakhil Madrasahs in Bhola & Jhalokati
Plan International has been operating in Bangladesh since 1994, helping children access their rights to health, education, economic security and protection free from early and forced marriage.
We partner with 30 national and local non-governmental organizations, and together our work benefits more than 3,500,000 people.
According to UNICEF’s State of the World’s Children Report, 2016, Bangladesh continues to have the 5th highest CEFM rates worldwide and the highest rate of marriage involving girls under 15. 52% of girls are married by their 18th birthday, and 18% by the age of 15.
Facts on Child Marriage:
- Every year, nearly 12 million girls are married before the age of 18.
- Early marriage often leads to early pregnancies. Complications during pregnancy and childbirth are the leading cause of death among 15-19 year-old girls globally.
- Marrying before 18 can increase the risk of HIV infection in girls.
- Child marriage is a global issue and no country, religion or culture is immune.
- In absolute numbers, India has the highest number of child brides in the world. The rate of child marriage in the country is 47%.
- Five countries with highest rates of child marriage are: Niger, Central African Republic, Chad, Mali and Bangladesh. In these countries, more than 50% of girls are married by 18.
- Girls with secondary schooling are up to 6x less likely to marry as children compared to girls who have little or no education.
Empowering Girls in Bangladesh to say No to Child Marriage: https://stories.plancanada.ca/empowering-girls-in-bangladesh-to-say-no-to-child-marriage/
Myths about Child Marriage: https://stories.plancanada.ca/5-myths-about-child-marriage-2/
Plan International Canada social handles:
Mosamat Julekha Begum, 65, lives in Bhurungamari Upazila in the remote northern district of Kurigram in Bangladesh. She has been making matches in her community for almost 20 years and has brought almost 500 couples together during that time. Mosamat recently took part in training to learn how to use the new app.
“Since the training I have refused to participate in four weddings because I got to know that the brides were under the age of 18. I also consulted with the parents so they wouldn’t get their daughters married at an early age.”
Caption: A new mobile phone app being launched in Bangladesh has the potential to prevent child marriage. Created by the government and developed to scale by Plan International, the app stopped over 3,700 underage marriages during its six month pilot period alone.
Caption: Sazeda, 16, was ten years old when she first joined a children’s group set up by Plan International. “We talked to children and adults about the protection of children in our village.”
When 16 year old Sazeda’s older sister was married at a young age, she saw the impact it had on her and made a promise to herself that she would never get married while she was still a child. So when her family wanted her to marry an unknown boy at the age of fourteen, she refused and managed to convince her parents that her studies were more important. The marriage was called off and Sazeda was allowed to continue going to school.
Sazeda is now a member of several youth groups, which together form a platform for all children and young people. “I want to become a teacher and a singer”, says Sazeda. She believes studying is important to succeed in life and become independent. When a girl gets married they are often taken out of school, leaving her without options to take care of herself.
Caption: For girls in Bangladesh, their dreams come to a crashing halt when they are married off by their parents at a young age. Although the percentage has decreased slightly in recent years, according to UNICEF, six out of ten girls are still married before they are eighteen and more than a fifth are married before they are fifteen.
Ahead of her wedding to 22-year-old Sabuj who she has never met before, Soniya, 15, is covered with turmeric, a yellow substance which gives her skin a glow. It is part of the ceremonial ritual ‘Gaye Holud’, a cleansing tradition in which the bride and groom are ‘washed’. Their hands are rubbed with henna and their hair and skin with turmeric, her without options to take care of herself.