Happy International Women's Day to all our social workers, children, supporters and partners.
On this special day we wanted to celebrate a new data report out this week from UNICEF which has reported a unprecedented drop in the number of child marriages worldwide.
"UNICEF estimates that globally 12 million girls marry each year before they turn 18; this is a drop from their previous estimate of 15 million per year. "
India is one of the countries to have seen numbers of child marriages fall so drastically, and we're thrilled to hear this news.
However, as a member of Girls Not Brides we agree with their statement on the news this week - that now is not a time for complacency. It is shockingly unacceptable that there are still 12 million children married off before they turn 18.
The girls we work with, who come from marginalised groups right at the very bottom of the social and economical pecking order, remain entirely vulnerable from the threat of child marriage. Our social workers are constantly vigilant and maintain strong ties with the community so that they can know as soon as word of a child marriage comes around.
Despite this marriages still take place, families keep them silent - sometimes fathers arrange weddings for their daughters without even telling the mother – driven by economic and social pressures to marry their young girls off.
Despite being illegal, marriages are almost impossible to annul without some kind of arbitrary fine given by local government officials which in some cases our organisation has had to pay for the sake of a young girls freedom and education.
The fight for gender equality is not over. And that is why it is so important to recognise the challenges faced by girls and women around the world, not just this day but everyday.
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