Cameroon is one of the 20 countries in the world with the highest rates of child marriage: 38% of girls are married before they turn 18. This number varies according to the region and reaches a staggering 73% in the northern part of the country. Child marriage is rooted in a number of intertwined issues, such as poverty, religious and social traditions, and a lack of education, in addition to social and legal discrimination against girls and women, who are often considered a burden for their families.
Consequently, despite Cameroon’s ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which indicates 18 as the minimum age for marriage for girls and boys, child marriage remains widespread and severely limits the life prospects of countless girls.
THE SOLUTIONS WE'RE PROPOSING
W4’s field partner in Cameroon, APDEL, proposes an innovative, holistic approach to ending child marriage. Putting youth at the heart of the solution, the program creates Community Youth Groups and provides young people in these groups with education and training to help them to both understand the issue of child marriage and be able to collectively develop community action plans to end child marriage. The Community Youth Groups then work to raise awareness about child marriage in their local communities, engaging with various community members, families, and traditional and religious leaders in order to inform the wider community about children’s rights and the dangers of child marriage.
The program also includes a legal component, with the provision of services to facilitate access to justice for at-risk girls and women and women who have been married as children. The program also offers training for local lawyers, specifically on the issue of child marriage, and incorporates lobbying and advocacy activities in towns, aimed at mobilizing parents and traditional leaders.
The program provides support services for young women who were married as children and women survivors of violence through an income-generative activity training program. This helps the women to achieve financial autonomy and become better able to protect themselves. At the same time, adapted training for social workers enables them to better respond to the specific needs of the young women in the program.
Finally, one of the main objectives of this program is to develop an innovative mobile application that offers a range of services to help raise awareness about child marriage, provide support services for young women who were married as children, create access to justice for at-risk girls and women, and increase reporting of child marriage to local authorities.
THE IMPACT OF GIVING
By supporting this program, which will benefit approximately 6,500 people* in the community, you contribute to the implementation of a powerful, comprehensive program to help end child marriage in Cameroon. Your giving has an immense impact: you will offer girls and young women in Cameroon the opportunity to become change agents in their communities and to lead a movement to end child marriage; you will help girls and young women (who were married before the age of 18) to become financially independent through income-generating activities and better equipped to protect themselves; and you will help give survivors of child marriage and violence access to crucial support services, including legal assistance.
Finally, your contribution will help finance the development of an innovative mobile application that will serve the entire community: girls, women, parents, families, social workers, lawyers, and religious leaders, enabling all these community members to be change agents in a collective endeavour to end child marriage.
Together, we can end child marriage!
*This figure includes: 10 women who will benefit from access to income-generating activity training; 6 community youth groups, which will develop awareness-raising activities with the goal of reaching more than 6,000 community members (5,000 girls and boys, and 1,000 parents); 15 lawyers and 15 social workers, who will benefit from targeted training on the subject of child marriage.