Highlights of Initiatives Addressing Child Marriage Part 4
Dr Ikhtiar Uddin Khandaker
Head of Health Programme
Plan International is a non-profit child rights humanitarian organisation working throughout the globe, having its presence in 72 countries. Their motto is to inspire 100 million girls throughout the world ‘to learn, lead, decide and thrive’ with the help of its 5 years’ global strategy programme. This organisation started its journey in Bangladesh in 1994 from the Northern parts of the country. With the help of 5 year programmes, they are targeting 6 different areas – health, education, child protection, water sanitation and hygiene, emergency situation and disaster risk reduction, and lastly, youth economic empowerment.
Their Child Protection Programme directly works to reduce child marriage by working directly with the Prime Minister’s Office to target all the 67,000 marriage registrars throughout the country for educating and training them. Their Education Programme strives to retain girls in schools. When a girl drops out from school she becomes more vulnerable. A school can play a huge role to protect children against getting married, so this programme also makes sure that the quality of schools and teachers is always checked. With the help of Youth Economic Empowerment Programme, the girls who are most vulnerable to getting married are linked to vocational training and skills. They have provided sewing machines to girls who have developed their sewing skills. Their Health Programme has two parts, one looks after maternal and newborn health, and the other looks after adolescent SRHR which plays a huge role in preventing child marriage by providing right information, training and services about SRHR to children and their parents.
A few of their projects that are directly related to child marriage are: Aporajita, which provides training to 67,000 marriage registrars across the country, Building Better Future for Girls, this program develops their life skills so that they can aspire for a better future. They have projects that are working in remote areas like Khagrachori, Kishoreganj, Rangpur and Bargunaha to prevent child marriage in those areas by targeting to adolescent and young people, their parents, community leaders, teachers, health care providers both in schools, health facility and community in providing Sexual and Reproductive Health & Rights (SRHR) and gender equality information, skills and services. Child marriage being their flagship programme, all of their programmes are related to the prevention of child marriage in one way or the other.