Support sessions and sports inspire girls in rural India to stay in school.

Why we care: Adolescent girls in rural communities of Rajasthan, India are extremely vulnerable to early marriage because of deeply engrained traditions and the low status of girls and women in a patriarchal society.

How we’re solving this: By working directly with adolescent girls to inspire them to stay in school, resist child marriage, and become agents of change within their communities.

With your support, we plan to hire and train three new female program staff members to conduct bi-weekly support sessions for both married and unmarried adolescent girls. The meetings will take place after school and will allow in-school and out-of-school girls to socialize and learn from each other. An additional session will be held for girls who are not enrolled in school. We’ll also purchase educational materials and badminton and sports equipment for the girls.

Through the group sessions, girls will learn life skills, receive health and human rights education, and be encouraged and supported to stay, or enroll, in school. Married girls will gain access to much needed information regarding reproductive rights and health, including awareness about family planning, HIV/AIDS, and sexually transmitted diseases. In addition, we’ll bring girls together through sports by giving them the chance to learn to play badminton and other sports of their choice.

A project that addresses child marriage deals with issues that are culturally sensitive, and we know that care must be taken not to alienate the girls from their community. In order to overcome anticipated risks and challenges, girls were consulted in the development of the project.

We know that child brides are often denied education. This is not only detrimental to their personal development but also limits their economic opportunities. Young brides are at risk of experiencing health complications associated with early pregnancy and suffer from social isolation, making them more likely to be victims of domestic violence than girls who delay marriage.

Help us eliminate child marriage by preventing social isolation, bringing girls together through sport, and challenging discriminatory notions of gender.