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Children and youth join to protect their rights in India

CCFC project engages communities in protecting children from early, forced marriages

By Sandra Upeslacis, director, strategic communications

Ask a teenaged girl if she is willing to put her reproductive health at risk, limit her opportunities for education and quash her future economic independence. You’re likely to hear a resounding “No!” In India, where rates of child marriage are high, Christian Children’s Fund of Canada (CCFC) gave a voice to children and teens to help raise awareness about the harmful practice.

A project spanning 32 villages in the districts of Prakasam and Guntur in Andhra Pradesh reached 9,000 people. Children took part in the initiative, which empowered them as rights-holders, and parents and other stakeholders were empowered as duty-bearers to protect the younger generation’s rights, too.

From dramatic street performances starring the children to gender-equality training, discussions between children and their parents about why child marriage is wrong and the promotion of clubs for positive interaction, the project was a success.

Children and youth quickly understood and articulated their rights, leading the activities themselves. They demanded that the existing child-protection system must function effectively and they prevented child marriages in their villages. They encouraged their parents, influential leaders and other community members to become involved in a child-protection system and to sign a declaration that they will not conduct or support child early, forced marriage.

Like most other countries, the legal age of marriage in India is 18. But longstanding cultural and religious practices, limited options for poor families and discrimination against girls have contributed to forcing millions of girls into child marriages.

For girls in the villages of Prakasam and Guntur, thanks to the support of CCFC donors, their prospects for a future of their choosing are now much brighter. And, an educational model has been developed to create similar outcomes for other girls in like-minded communities, too.

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About Christian Children's Fund of Canada:

Christian Children’s Fund of Canada (CCFC) is a child-centred international development organization and a member of ChildFund Alliance. For more than 55 years, CCFC has worked with children, communities, donors and other partners — changing lives through improved health, education and clean water. CCFC works in 12 countries across Africa, Asia and the Americas, to support more than 700,000 children, youth and community members.