We are pleased to announce our newest partnership with Girls Not Brides, whose main focus is to end childhood marriage. Girls Not Brides is a partnership made up of over 550 member organizations in 70 countries that are committed to ending child marriage and defend girls' rights to health, education and the opportunity to reach their full potential.
Girls Not Brides believes that marriage should not occur between two people until they are both 18 or older (in line with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child). This minimum age requirement allows both partners the chance to finish their primary education, be children, participate in their communities, and grow in ways to enhance their capacities as adults.
The organizations' members amplify their voices by working together in the following ways:
To change policies that effect child marriage
To facilitate the sharing of information needed to support efforts to end child marriage
To raise awareness locally, nationally, and globally on this subject and inspire action
Why We Became Members of Girls Not Brides
Girl Up Initiative Uganda was interested in joining the Girls Not Brides movement because it will significantly bolster our efforts to combat the challenges associated with child marriage. As an organization whose mission is to ensure the girls we work with in Kampala are empowered, have the opportunities they need to become leaders in their communities and agents of change for a more gender equal society, it is vital that we address the issue of child marriage. Currently, child marriage is included in our training for the Adolescent Girls Program, and we would like to see this topic grow in our program.
Additionally, GUIU is excited to join the larger advocacy campaigns around this issue in Uganda, specifically the newly established Uganda Alliance to End Child Marriage.
Working with Girls Not Brides to fight child marriage in Uganda would ensure that the multiple effects of child marriage are avoided, specifically:
Girls being unable to remain in school and complete their education, which they need in order to follow their dreams and develop into empowered young women both economically and socially
The violation of the rights of the girl child, whose basic human rights are to be respected
Early pregnancy, which can lead to other health-related complications such as maternal and infant mortality and exposure to HIV/AIDS and STIs
Exposure to gender-based violence
How GUIU Will Benefit from this Partnership
Thanks to the work of Girls Not Brides, ending child marriage has received global attention and support, due to the proven ripple effects it has in the context of gender equality and sustainable development. Therefore, partnering is a strategic move for GUIU so that we can leverage the current momentum and willingness of funders, governments, and civil society to work collaboratively to address this global issue. By joining the Girls Not Brides network, we will gain insight into activities occurring in the region, as well as how we can increase our advocacy work to amplify impact. It also allows us to learn from their other partners and incorporate best practices into our programs.
GUIU's Contribution to the Girls Not Brides Network
GUIU is committed to improving the life of the girl child. We are willing to support and become advocates in Uganda at the local, national, and regional level with on-the-ground information and insight in the fight against child marriage. GUIU has much knowledge and information from the community level to leverage and contribute to the partnership. We will collaborate with other network members on advocacy campaigns and events to spread the message through community engagement initiatives and outreach.
GUIU will utilize our unique position as a community-based and youth-run organization operating at the grassroots level to educate the most susceptible girls about this harmful practice. Child marriage has huge implications on the education of the girl child, particularly in Uganda, where 46% of girls are married before the age of 18. When girls are forced to get married at an early age they often stop going to school, find themselves isolated, and can no longer take advantage of opportunities that could have improved their lives. Moreover, the effects of child marriage are generational, which lead the girls’ children to inherit his/her mothers' poverty and the denial of an education as the tradition of early marriage continues.
When GUIU was established, one of the first observations our founders noted was the high school drop-out rate due to child marriage, early pregnancy, poverty and menstruation -- much of which in Kampala’s slums goes largely unreported and addressed under the assumption that cities or areas on the periphery of the city are ‘safe’. GUIU also gets insight from the girls themselves about these issues, and child marriage is clearly a significant challenge they face. Some girls have told us that when they go back to their rural communities during school holidays they are at high risk for child marriage. In these cases, GUIU staff counsel the girls and in some cases discuss the issue with the girls' guardians.
The Work We've Done Involving Child Marriage Issues
GUIU is currently working in the underserved slums of Kampala: specifically Luzira in central Kampala. Child marriage is a topic that is covered in our Adolescent Girls Program that GUIU specially developed to supplement the primary school education of the girls that we work with. It consists of 10 training sessions and ongoing school advocacy and outreach. This program provides girls with a more holistic educational experience and helps prepare them to be empowered and self-sufficient leaders in their communities.
There are three topics in our training program in particular where we emphasize the negative impacts of child marriage.
The first topic revolves around creating aspirations for life and learning how to set goals. Girls are encouraged to accomplish anything they set their minds to as long as they work hard, plan, and believe in themselves. This can only be achieved by avoiding hindrances such as child marriage. During the session the girls are prompted by the question: "What can get in the way of reaching your dreams to go to college and achieving your career goals?" Sample answer include boyfriends, skipping class, pregnancy, early marriage and sexually transmitted diseases as some of the challenges. The GUIU trainers also offer solutions through answering the question: "What are some of the ways of avoiding these obstacles?". Solutions include abstaining from early sex and relationships, which can lead to and/or be a symptom of early marriage.
The second session that directly relates to ending child marriage is entitled 'Human Rights in Uganda'. We cover the main features of human rights, with a special focus on children's rights. As enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of Children, the minimum age for marriage is 18 years. GUIU ensures that the girls are equipped with knowledge about the legal age for marriage so they pass on the information to their peers, families and communities.
The third session that touches on child marriage is the ‘Violence Against Women’ topic. Our trainers cover the root causes of VAW, highlighting that all forms of VAW lie in a society’s attitudes towards and practices of gender discrimination, societal attitudes of disrespect or disregard for women, a lack of belief in human rights for all, and a lack of knowledge of women and girls’ rights. Most importantly, the session teaches about the range and various shapes and forms violence can take (physical, sexual, emotional, economic). Traditional harmful practices is one form of VAW, which includes early marriages, as well as female genital cutting, widow inheritance, denial of inheritance rights, and more.
As you can see, we are proud to join Girls Not Brides as a member! This partnership has the potential to increase the visibility of our work and build our capacity to create meaningful policy change with other network partners in Uganda. Please use the comments box below to share your thoughts, congratulations, or own stories on how strategic partnerships have impacted organizations you are involved with.