29 Jul 2021, 20:50

USAID launches campaign against child marriage in Bangladesh


DHAKA, July 29, 2021 (BSS) – A campaign to check child marriage was launched here today in support of United States Agency for International Development (USAID) while Bangladesh is witnessing a sharp rise in such marriages due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

The campaign titled “Actions to Prevent Child Marriage in Bangladesh” is designed to encourage families to condemn the harmful practice of child marriage and support every girl’s dream to achieve their aspirations.

The campaign will help advance the objectives of Bangladesh’s 10-year National Plan of Action to End Child Marriage (2018-2030), a US embassy press release said here.

It said Bangladesh has made notable progress in curbing child marriage, where studies show that the proportion of girls who married before age 16 declined from 46 percent to 32 percent between 2007-2017, while those who married before age 18 (the legal age of marriage) fell from 66 percent to 59 percent.

However, the release said the country is witnessing a sharp rise in child marriages during the COVID-19 pandemic, driven by multiple factors including reduced income, especially in lower-income families, and schools closures.

USAID’s Ujjiban Social Behavior Change Communication project, implemented by Johns Hopkins University, is leading the public awareness campaign highlighting the health risks of early pregnancy and the high returns of investing in girls’ education.

The campaign will also help generate awareness about the current law in Bangladesh that prohibits child marriage, instruct people how to use existing mechanisms to report incidents in their community, and help victims seek support.

The campaign will seek to collect 1 million pledges from adolescents, parents, community leaders, policy makers, business leaders and civil society representatives to prevent child marriage.

Women and children affairs secretary Md. Sayedul Islam launched the campaign formally today where Director of the Office of Population, Health, Nutrition and Education of USAID Xerses Sidhwa was present.

“Honorable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is committed to eliminate child marriage from Bangladesh by 2041. Government, development partners, non-government organizations, private sector and relevant stakeholders must all work together to make it a reality,” Islam said while launching the campaign.

Sidhwa said that the USAID would continue its work to protect young Bangladeshis from this harmful practice, and work alongside the Bangladesh government and other partners to eliminate child marriage, which undermines efforts to promote sustainable development.

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