Progress for women is gradual in a world where an estimated 15 million girls are sold into marriage. In developing nations, the situation is even worse. According to the UNFPA, an estimated “one in three girls is married before reaching age 18. One in nine is married under age 15.” Among other scary news on child marriage is this recent report that child marriages are on the rise in Syria.
There are several funders paying close attention to the problem of child marriage. These include Kendeda, which has committed over $31 million in this arena in recent years, and provides support for Human Rights Watch, the Global Fund for Women, and Girls Not Brides. The Ford Foundation also does some significant work in this area, and The NoVo Foundation is also committed to the cause of ending child marriage.
A recent addition to the funders in this space is The Firelight Foundation, which according to Inside Philanthropy, partnered with Agape AIDS Control Program in 2015 to put in place programs to stop child marriages and early pregnancies “across five wards in the Shinyanga, a region of Tanzania where nearly 60 percent of girls are married before their 18th birthdays.”
Philanthropy will hopefully become more attuned to the particular reforms that countries need to end practices that hurt women and girls. There is so much to know and learn in this area, and reforms that must be funded. For example, I would like to find out about funders who are working to ban the Islamic practice of triple talaq in India, which entitles a man to dissolve his relationship with his wife by announcing three times, “Talaq.” Recently, there has been successful organizing to end the controversial “Talaq” practice. CNN reported that more than a million Muslims, mostly women, have signed a petition to end the divorce practice of triple talaq.
You can count me in on signing the petition to end triple talaq. Meanwhile, Philanthropy Women will continue investigating the funders working on particular areas of legal reform to marriage codes that impact women and girls, and will highlight the philanthropy working to remedy the problems.