World Vision Report Finds 3.3 Million Girls At Risk Of Child Marriage Due To Covid-19 Pandemic
- The number of children experiencing crisis-level hunger increased by 12m between 2019 to 2020
- 3.3m girls are at risk of child marriage due to the hunger crisis
- A child that went to bed hungry in the past four weeks is 60% more likely to be married than their peers who did not experience hunger
- Currently, 130 million girls are not in school, 5 million of those are missing out on an education as a result of Covid-19
A new report out today from World Vision shows the devastating impact of Covid-19 on girls in the developing world.
The report, How COVID-19's impact on hunger and education is forcing children into marriage, warns that an additional 3.3 million girls globally are at high risk of child marriage.
The World Vison report reveals that thesurge in child marriage rates is already clearly taking place; 2020saw the largest increase in child marriage rates in 25 years. According to World Vision data, between March to December 2020, child marriages more than doubled in many communities, compared to 2019.In an assessmentofchildren and families across nine countries in the Asia-Pacificregion from April to June 2021, 82% of the childreninterviewedwho were married became married after the start of the pandemic.
The report looks at the drivers of child marriage, focusing on the relationship between child marriage and other issues that affect girls, such as poverty, hunger, access to education and parental support – all issues that have been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The NGO cites rising hunger levels brought on by the global pandemic as a critical factor, saying that the number of children experiencing crisis level hunger increased by 12 million between 2019, when Covid-19 began, to 2020. More than 41 million girls, boys, women and men (around half of them children) are currently at risk of starvation in 43 countries. There is a risk of famine in multiple countries in Africa, the Middle East and Latin America.
The new research by World Vision, carried out in Ghana, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, and India, found that a girl who went to bed hungry in the past four weeks is 60 percent more likely to be married than a girl who is not experiencing hunger.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has increased poverty levels, hunger and resulted in a decrease in access to education, putting more girls at risk becoming child brides. In addition, the pandemic has placed an extra 85 million children at risk of physical, sexual and emotional violence. During crisis, we see this time and time again – girls suffer the most,” says Rebecca Kingi, Acting Head of Advocacy at World Vision New Zealand. “Millions of girls and women live in fear of violence - just because they are girls.”
Girls in developing countries are facing a range of human rights challenges, including being forced into situations of sexual exploitation to support their families, violence, abuse, starvation, inadequate access to healthcare, food and education, forced marriage and trafficking.
Today World Vision is launching a campaign to help girls live free from fear and is inviting New Zealanders to join the global movement to sponsor 1,000 girls, by Children’s Day, 20 November.
New Zealanders can act now to make a positive difference in the lives of girls in some of the most vulnerable communities around the world, says Kingi.
“World Vision’s sponsorship programmes help keep girls in school by tackling the root causes of poverty and injustice that many families face,” explains Kingi. “When you sponsor a girl, you help provide them with basic necessities like nutritious food, clean water, access to education and health care. In countries where sponsorship is possible, consistent support helps ensure girls are protected from child labour or early marriage, and that they can remain at school.”
In November well-known Kiwis will be helping to share inspirational stories from 10 girls around the world who have thrived from World Vision’s sponsorship programmes.
“Covid-19 has made it even more tough to be a girl right now,” adds Kingi. “Many girls are forced into situations of sexual exploitation to support their families, other girls exposed to violence and abuse, making it unsafe for many of them to attend school, and many girls face starvation. Girls who are hungry are more likely to skip school and are vulnerable to forced marriage and trafficking. This is the time for New Zealanders to make a positive impact.”
To join the movement to sponsor 1,000 girls by 20 November, go to worldvision.org.nz/1000girls. Call 0800 800 776 or Text HELP to 3493 to donate $3 now and give a girl the tools to write her own future.