I’m here for other children.
I’m here because I care.
I’m here because children everywhere are suffering and because forty thousand people die each day from hunger.
I’m here because those people are mostly children.
We have got to understand that the poor are all around us and we are ignoring them.
We have got to understand that these deaths are preventable.
We have got to understand that people in third world countries think and care and smile and cry just like us.
We have got to understand that they dream our dreams and we dream theirs.
We have got to understand that they are us. We are them.
My dream is to stop hunger by the year 2000.
My dream is to give the poor a chance.
My dream is to save the 40,000 people who die each day.
My dream can and will come true if we all look into the future and see the light that shines there.
If we ignore hunger, that light will go out.
If we all help and work together, it will grow and burn free with the potential of tomorrow.”
― Rachel Corrie-aged 10 — 1990
“Much of the atrocities that are committed towards Arab women occur partly because the victim does not know that she has a basic right for her body to be hers, for her privacy to be respected and for her education to be a necessity not a privilege she receives if it is financially possible after her brother has been educated.”
― Aysha Taryam
What is it like to be a child bride?
Millions of girls across the world end up as child brides, despite the practice being outlawed in many countries. But some girls are defying their families' attempts to marry them off.
Some 10 million girls a year are married off before the age of 18 across the world, according to a Unicef report released this year.
In 2011 South Africa's Archbishop Desmond Tutu, at the launch of the Girls Not Brides global initiative described child marriage as a "practice that robs millions of girls of their childhood, their rights and their dignity".
ome 40% of the world's child marriages take place in India. In the northern state of Rajasthan I witnessed the wedding of two sisters who were about six and 11 years old.
As older female relatives fussed over them - dressing them in sparkly red-and-gold outfits and applying full bridal make-up - the brides, like obedient children, quietly went along with it all.
Child marriages are illegal in India, and are punishable with a fine of Rs100,000 (£1,300) and two years in prison for anyone who performs, conducts or negligently fails to prevent a child marriage. But this didn't seem to bother any of the guests who danced merrily or the priest who solemnly chanted the wedding rites. According to a study by The International Center for Research on Women (ICRW), girls in some Indian states who were married before 18, were twice as likely to report being beaten, slapped or threatened by their husbands than girls who married later.
Being forced into early marriage is one of the biggest obstacles to getting an education. For field workers of one small NGO in Rajasthan, Shiv Shiksha Samiti, encouraging girls to refuse marriage and stay on in school is crucial.
There are 10 million child marriages a year worldwide
There are at least 50 million married child couples around the world and this will double by the end of the decade
The top three countries with the highest proportion of child brides are Niger, Chad and Mali
Bangladesh is fourth and India is 13th in the world table of child marriage statistics by proportion
An estimated 14 million adolescents between 15 and 19 give birth each year. Girls in this age group are twice as likely to die during pregnancy or childbirth as women in their 20s.
5 facts about child marriage:
1. Every two seconds, a girl becomes a child bride
According to Girls Not Brides, a partnership of more than 400 civil society organizations working to end child marriage, 15 million girls a year marry before the age of 18: that makes 41,000 girls a day, or one girl every two seconds. Unless we do something to reduce those numbers, an extra 1.2 billion girls will be married by 2050.
2. 90% of adolescent pregnancies in developing countries are among married girls
When a girl bears children before she is physically or emotionally ready, it has serious consequences: girls under 15 are five times more likely to die in childbirth than women in their twenties. In fact, according to the World Health Organization, complications related to pregnancy and childbirth are the second cause of death for girls aged between 15 and 19 around the world.
3. By eliminating child marriage and early pregnancies, we could halve the gender education gap
The UN has recognized that not enough work has been done to measure the impact of child marriage on education. The research that has been done, though, suggests child marriage negatively affects a girl’s educational prospects. Based on 2006 data from Nigeria, two researchers found that child marriage accounted for up to 20% of school drop-outs. A later study by the same researchers found that the gender education gap could be cut in half if child marriage and early pregnancies were eliminated
4. Girls from poor families are almost twice as likely to marry than girls from wealthier households
Not only are girls from poor families more likely to become child brides, they’re also more likely to remain poor: “Girls who marry young do not receive the educational and economic opportunities that help lift them and their families out of poverty, and their children are more likely to undergo the same fate.”
5. The international community has committed to ending child marriage within 15 years
When the United Nations finalized the Sustainable Development Goals last September, Goal 5 committed to “achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls”. Part of that commitment was a pledge to “eliminate all harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriages”. But as activists noted when Guatemala recently announced it was raising the minimum age of marriage to 18, it’s not just about changing laws: social norms must also shift. And that part can be even more challenging. In Ethiopia, for example, the legal age of marriage is 18, but nearly one in five girls are married before they turn 15.