I Stand Up Against Early Marriage

CESCRA is implementing a one year project entitled Campaign Against Early Marriage ‘ I stand Up against Early Marriage’ in Ngwedo Sub-County in Buliisa District and Kyangwali Sub-County in Kikuube District project supported by Girl First Fund.

Early Marriage

It is a marriage of a girl or boy before the age of 18 and refers to both formal marriages and informal unions in which children under the age of 18 live with a partner as if married. … Almost half (45%) of all women aged 20-24 years reported being married before the age of 18.

Early marriage is and leads to violation of a child’s protection and human rights.

Teenage Pregnancies

This is where a teenage girl, usually within the ages of 13-19, becoming pregnant. The term in everyday speech usually refers to girls who have not reached legal adulthood, which varies across the world, who become pregnant

Summary Context

The problem of early, forced marriage and early pregnancy globally impact on 700 women 125 of these from Africa. In Sub-Sahara alone 39% of girls are married before the age of 18 (UNICEF, 2016). In Uganda, 36.5% of women between age of 18 to 22 married young (Male, Chata et al, 2016).

Causes of early marriage may vary, but linkages are similar. Poverty, illiteracy levels and persisting negative social and cultural norms that view girls as destined for marriage has served to exacerbate the problem in Uganda. In the communities CESCRA has worked in, the magnitude is demonstrated by composition in women groups. Out of 50 members of a group, it’s common to find only 4 can read or write. In some women groups CESCRA has worked with, you just have to look at the face of girls carrying children, pregnant and wives among other adult women. This has been a driving force for CESCRA to focus on the problem. In schools girls do not finish primary level and others drop from form 1 and 2 in secondary school due to early marriage.

Early marriage deny girls education, safety from sexual abuse and domestic violence, better health and a vicious cycle to generation of girls. It is common to find no examples of educated girls to inspire others to remain in school and the perception of girls’ education in the community further lower girls’ chances and potential. Under such circumstances, girls remain at risk and are viewed as the cash-cow of fathers seeking to acquire wealth through bride-price. Early marriage problem happens within the context of persisting gender inequalities in society that relegate women and girls to lower status in community therefore limit their opportunities to rise above the problems. CESCRA envisages in depth approaches that will reduce early marriage in these areas and are replicable to other parts of the country and yet have a policy reform effect at the national level 

Quick facts about the situation of early marriage in the two districts.    

  • Uganda is currently 38 million, 50.8% of whom are female.
  • Approximately 6.8% of these (1.3m) are girls aged 15-17 and 40% of these get married before age of 18. Roughly 525,000 girls are at risk every year.
  • Ngwedo Sub-county has 20242 people, 21.4 % children are not in school & 19.4 of the aged 10 – 19 have ever been married.
  • Kyangwali Sub-County has 96089 people, 33.4% of children between 6-12 years are not in school & 21 % of those between 10-19 have ever married
  • Can you recall those married or fell pregnant in your school?

Expected Results:

Specific Change

1. In one year CESCRA expects to have increased the levels of awareness and knowledge about early marriage in the project areas and in the District. We would have sensitized girls in schools, made community outreach with dialogues, had radio programmes that reach beyond the project area and we have generated and shared information.

2. At least the capacities of girls and boys in the project to lead the campaign on early marriage will have improved significantly. The skills from the practical activities with communities and fellow school environment will motivate them to reflect at their own personal behaviors and develop inner urge to rise above the challenge of early marriage.

3. The voices of girls experiencing early marriages in Buliisa district will influence policy recommendations at the national level.

Improvement in the girls lives

4. Information is power. At least of the 207 girls and 63 boys who will be aware about early marriages its broader social economic impacts, will not be the same and may change their behavior including decision to stay in school and tackling pressure from their societies.

5. Girls involved as Ambassadors are likely to resist pressure of early marriages since they are likely to develop assertiveness a strong pillar in early pregnancies and sexual abuses leading to early marriages.

6. Girls involved in direct education of communities and their own teachers and parents in the process may also improve their academic performance which may see them join secondary or finish secondary school examinations that thus their lives can never be the same.

CESCRA intends to harmonise the international and regional human rights law with national reforms and strategies.