Child marriage is a form of gender-based violence that robs girls of their childhoods, education and futures. The practice has profound and life-changing impacts on girls, their families and subsequent generations.
According to Girls Not Brides (a global partnership working collectively to ending child marriage so that girls can fulfil their potential), estimates that 12 million girls are married off before the age of 18 years every year globally and nearly 650 million women alive today became brides before they turned 18 years old some even before age 10.
In Uganda, more than 34 per cent of girls are married before the age of 18 every year. Despite the legal provisions under the 1995 Constitution of Uganda,8.9 million girls aged 10-19 are at risk of harmful practices including child marriage. Child Marriage is one of the significant drivers of adolescent pregnancy and ninety per cent of adolescent pregnancies occur to girls who are married before the age of 18 and who have little say or no say in decisions about when or whether to become pregnant.
Despite several resolutions by the United Nations General Assembly and the Human Rights Council urging countries to fund and increase investments in ending and eliminating child marriage, the momentum towards ending the practise has never been stronger.
On the 11th October 2022, Gufasha Girls Foundation launched The #ReturnMyFuture campaign with the aim of calling upon World leaders to deliver the commitments and promises made towards ending child marriage and ensuring that no girl is left behind, mobilizing families and communities, including health care providers, police, religious and traditional leaders as allies for gender equality, advocating, educating and empowering girls about their rights to stand against child marriage, preventing adolescent girls from dropping out of school and also strengthen school capacity to support girls in abide to End Child Marriage.
With lack of information and knowledge about girls’ rights being one of the major causes of child marriage and the need to put girls at the center of solutions to ending child marriage, the campaign was launched in schools on 12th June 2023 to empower school-going adolescent girls about their rights and the role they can take in ending this harmful practice. Under the theme of “Building a movement of empowered girls to end child marriage”, the campaign has so far worked with 8 schools thus reaching out, educating and empowering more than 500 girls to be advocates of change in their communities.
To ensure sustainability, Gufasha Girls Foundation looks forward to training, equipping with skills and supporting 5 girls in each school to become focal people, advocates and leaders in their communities to fight against child marriage through creating awareness and motivating community behavior changes towards girls with special reference to addressing child marriage and promoting the importance of girls’ education.