Briefing Paper 'Empowering Girls to Delay Child Marriage in Bangladesh'

'Empowering Girls to Delay Child Marriage in Bangladesh'

The Bangladeshi Association for Life Skills, Income,  and Knowledge for Adolescents (BALIKA) project provides important insights into what works to delay child marriage. New evidence shows that programs that educate girls, build their skills for modern livelihoods and engage their communities can delay child marriage and produce better health, educational and social outcomes for girls. Two out of three girls in Bangladesh are married before the legal age of 18. Most of them become mothers while they themselves are still children. 

Early marriage forces girls into sexual relationships for which they are not physically or emotionally prepared. It can cause them to drop out of school and it limits their opportunities for community participation, including employment. Even as adults, women who marry early are often at a disadvantage—they are more socially isolated, poorer, and less educated. A delayed marriage greatly improves a girl’s chances  for a healthy, happy, productive life. And the benefits of a later marriage go beyond the girl: her children, family, community, and country experience better health, economic, and social outcomes.

Programs that elevate girls’ visibility and status in their families and communities, and build their skills and knowledge, have been shown  to delay child marriage in different parts of the world. However, in Bangladesh, where efforts to prevent early marriage have focused  on the enforcement of laws and policies, little research exists on  what approaches work best to delay child marriage and why.
To help fill this evidence gap, in 2012 the Population Council and  partners embarked on a four-year study to understand whether  skills-building approaches to empower girls can delay early marriage  in Bangladesh communities where child marriage rates are highest.

Download the brief here.


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