Child marriage is a major impediment to girls’ and women’s human rights - and to overall development - in the Democratic Republic of Congo. 20 years of armed conflict, battling over control of the country’s natural resources, has had devastating consequences for the entire Congolese population, but girls have been the worst affected by the war. In DR Congo today, a staggering 37% of Congolese women were married as children, and 10% married before their 15th birthday.
The tradition of dowries contributes to the prevalence of child marriage in the DRC: girls often serve as payment for debt between one family and another. Such customs deprive girls and women of their rights and undermine efforts to improve the status of girls and women in DR Congo.
THE SOLUTIONS WE'RE PROPOSING
In South Kivu (the region worst affected by the conflict between Ugandan and Rwandan rebels), W4’s field partner, Debout Fille, proposes an innovative approach to end child marriage through the use of digital technologies. The program aims to provide young and teenaged girls with the tools they need to participate in community decision-making and to take charge of their own futures.
Through the creation of “Digital Learning Clubs and Spaces” and “Life Schools” for girls and young women, the program educates girls about sexual and reproductive rights and health. The program helps girls to set up “Girls’ Parliaments”, through which they can engage in political and community advocacy to end child marriage in their communities.
In parallel, the program also offers “Parents’ Schools” to educate parents about the dangers of child marriage. “Parents’ Schools” provide a safe, supportive space for parents to inform themselves and talk with other parents and families. The schools provide parents with the information they need to better protect and support their daughters in matters relating to sexual and reproductive health.
The program also aims to provide community members with access to and training in the use of digital technologies to obtain and disseminate information about children’s rights, to raise awareness about the harms of child marriage, to advocate to end child marriage, and to make them aware of the means of prevention. The objective is to harness digital technologies to facilitate and catalyse awareness-raising about child marriage and to strengthen lobbying to put an end to this harmful practice.
THE IMPACT OF GIVING
Your giving will provide 120 young women with training to lead “Girls’ Parliaments”, enabling them to become change agents in their communities and to contribute to raising community awareness about children’s rights, child marriage, and women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights. By donating to this program, you’ll also offer parents the opportunity to attend “Parents’ Schools”, equipping parents with the knowledge they need to be effective advocates of girls’ and women’s rights and to be able to take action, alongside other parents and community members, to end child marriage.
Your giving will also provide 240 community leaders with training in the use of digital technologies and digital networks to raise awareness about child marriage and to facilitate community-wide mobilization to prevent and end child marriage.
By giving to this program, you will help 1,200 girls and local community members to drive real, lasting change in their communities.
Together, we can end child marriage!