On this page you will learn about one of the pillars of our Theory of Change to end child marriage: to empower girls, how to do this, how to measure progress and examples of successful approaches.
Strategy to empower girls
For girls to refuse marriage, they have to understand and ‘own’ their rights, and be able to support their own life plans. A wide range of programmes should invest in girls, their participation and their well-being.
Programmes should equip girls with training, skills, and information, and provide safe spaces and support networks.
This means providing girls with the chance to connect with their peers and support each other as well as having access to formal support services. It also depends on the existence of real alternatives to marriage - different lifestyles and roles for unmarried girls that girls and their families value and respect.
- Girls are increasingly aware of their rights
- Girls have the opportunity to develop solidarity with one another through peer groups and collective action
- Alternative economic, social roles for girls and women exist and are valued
- Increased access of married and unmarried girls to health, education, economic, and legal support
Our strategic activities should help girls see themselves as ‘rights bearers’ with choices and opportunity. They should change what families and communities expect of girls, so that marrying girls young is no longer the only option available. And they should change girls’ conditions, so that they enjoy greater support from their peers and from service providers.
Programmes that empower girls
Safe space programmes
Safe space programmes which offer a varied curriculum covering life skills, health and financial literacy can provide girls with an opportunity to build their skills, learn and meet friends and mentors in an informal setting and learn about the services they can access in their community.
Safe space programmes can successfully build girls’ self-confidence, agency and self-efficacy, which they need to thrive. They can provide a good alternative for girls who do not have access to formal education such as married girls. Having a safe regular meeting place allows girls to meet with peers and share experiences which can reduce their sense of isolation and vulnerability.
Some of these programmes have economic empowerment components, such as conditional cash transfers, or the provision of a goat or chicken, which have proven successful in increasing the age of marriage.
Supporting young people to be agents of change
Supporting young people to be agents of change can be an effective and empowering process in and of itself. Many organisations work with young people so they can advocate for change as well as helping to inform the design of programmes that directly benefit their peers.
Youth groups, encouraging dialogue between youth and community leaders, and building the capacity of young people are all ways of supporting young people to be champions of change in their own communities.