Nanda - Sonvi Kapoor - Sushmita Mukherjee - Marcy Hersh
- Rashi Bhargava
Publication Date: March 1, 2011
Direct Link to Full 82-Page Report:
This report examines the social
norms surrounding child marriage, positive role models, community engagement,
and government-led efforts to prevent the practice in the Indian states of
Rajasthan and Bihar, which have some of the highest
prevalence rates of early marriage in the country. (Almost 69% of girls in Bihar
and 65.2% in Rajasthan are married before reaching the legal age of 18 years.)
Findings from the study, undertaken by the International
Center for Research on Women (ICRW) with the
supervision of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) India
and the financial support of the European Commission, reveal that deeply
entrenched norms are slowly changing through promising interventions to delay
marriage and encourage girls' education. The report also makes recommendations
toward the development of an integrated intervention strategy to delay marriage
for girls by enhancing girls' access to education, empowerment, community
mobilisation, partnership with media, and strengthening of law enforcement.
The study comprised of 170
in-depth interviews (IDIs), focus group discussions (FGDs), state level
stakeholder meetings, and key informant interviews.
Excerpts from the
norms and expectations affect girls' value and role in the community. In
the study areas in both Rajasthan and Bihar, there
are expectations that girls will help with domestic chores, learn to
undertake household responsibilities and get prepared for marriage.
Community members often do not perceive any alternative roles for girls.
These gendered expectations are prioritised over sending girls to school,
especially beyond the primary level...
considerations motivate child marriage...
model individuals value education and aspire for alternative roles for
girls....They do face potential stigma and exclusion but articulate a
resolve to educate their daughters and even allow them to pursue careers
beyond completion of schooling.
of public education infrastructure, facilities and teachers affect
motivation to send girls to school....Middle and secondary school
locations are often a significant distance from rural homes, raising
concerns about the safety of young girls, particularly when they reach
are increasing signs of change, enabling girls' access to
education...These include nongovernmental organisation (NGO) led shivirs
or education camps, government run residential schools and a NGO led
boarding home for girls....While these platforms for change exits,
interestingly, vocational training programmes that build livelihood skills
are rare in all four districts.
of public awareness and weak enforcement of the Prohibition of Child
Marriage Act 2006...
NGOs and community groups actively work to delay child marriage and
address social norms...
schemes to discourage child marriage lack correspondence and outreach...
Recommendations ...[I]ntersectoral collaboration between
the various stakeholders, including the government, local and international
NGOs, the media, and communities, is a key recommendation.
The following specific
recommendations articulate the integrated intervention.
girls' access to high quality education....A major challenge is to ensure
that girls can continue beyond the fifth year of school in those places
where middle and secondary schools are located at a significant distance
outside the village....Programmes for promoting more years of schooling
for girls should also be explored, which can include financial support to
low income families, increasing vocational and livelihoods training,
providing or subsidising girls' transportation to school and increased
awareness and enforcement of the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act
2006....Training camps and workshops need to be organised for government
officials in order to sensitise them as to the gravity of the issue and
the need for action....In addition, community members lack complete
information about the law's punitive measures....The study's
recommendation is to address this through community sensitisation meetings
as part of advocacy campaigns at each village, highlighting both the
punitive measures of the law, along with the importance of alternatives to
marriage and the benefits of educating the girl child.
up successful and promising interventions...
an enabling environment and advocate for change. An integrated strategy
will depend on developing effective advocacy and information dissemination
campaigns at the village, district and state levels to encourage
individual behaviour change. A key element of an effective communications
and awareness generation strategy should be showcasing positive role
models to highlight the reasons why they do not support early marriage,
including the benefits they perceive from delaying marriage. In addition,
educating, protecting and empowering young girls through life skills
classes is an already proven strategy for effectively delaying the age of
marriage, as demonstrated in previous studies. Families and communities,
including boys and men, also need to be involved in the process of
shifting norms by sensitising them about the risks associated with child
marriage. We recommend supporting this cooperation through the creation of
formalised groups and networks...
the media to reach the community....A comprehensive media approach can
engage a wide spectrum of community groups and catalyse change in the
norms around child marriage. In rural areas, consistent messages through a
variety of different media, including radio, local theatre productions,
puppet shows, mobile units and billboards should be carried out. These
media should especially help to laud and spread awareness about positive
deviants in the community."