Child Marriage is an abuse of children that must be stopped in our world today. Statistics reveal that about 12 million girls are married around the world every year. And this accounts for trillions of dollars lost as a result of the young and productive youth that we are throwing out of their destinies when they are thrown into these early marriages.
In Nigeria, 43% of girls are married before their 18th birthday, and 17% are married before they turn 15. I provided more information about the state of child marriage in Nigeria in a previous post titled, ‘The Case to #EndChildMarriage around the world’.
In the course of our work to end child marriage in Nigeria, we focus our work on building young advocates to champion the advocacy to end child marriage. Also, we target the survivors of such marriages with vocational and entrepreneurship skills to empower them to earn an income and improve their lives and their communities.
My organization, Girls Voices Initiative, received support from Mundo Cooperante, under its ‘Right to be a Girl’ Project to implement the project, ‘Empowering Married Girls and Women with Vocational and Entrepreneurship Skills to Build a Sustainable Cooperative’ which we also refer to as SWAG through Empowerment (Supporting Women and Girls through Empowerment). The project targets to directly benefit 45 married girls and women and indirectly impact 450 people in the course of the project implementation. The project seeks to empower girls and women to rise out of the negatives of early marriage that have left them to be victims of poverty, no education and in some cases, gender-based violence etc. Also, the project aims to establish a sustainable enterprise that provides a platform for the girls and women to raise an income and pull other girls and women out of the horrors of early marriage. While also joining ongoing initiatives to end child marriage in Nigeria and around the world. The project activities include:
- Recruitment, endorsement and program orientation
- Empowerment workshop (Personal Agency)
- Vocational skills training (tailoring and accessorizing)
- Project monitoring and evaluation
By the mid-year mark, the project witnessed some results, including:
- 45 project beneficiaries (married girls and women) receive personal agency through the empowerment workshop
- 45 project beneficiaries receive and manifest vocational skills in tailoring and accessorizing
- 45 project beneficiaries develop stronger vocational skills through the apprenticeship program
Before the project completion, the girls and women already displayed an impressive level of proficiency in the skill; sewing clothes for themselves, their children and clients within their communities. Equally important is the personal agency they have acquired that has given them working tools to create the life that they really want for themselves. Thanks to the Empowerment Workshop, (powered by the Empowerment Institute, USA) the girls and women understand how to create a vision around 7 pillars of their lives; emotion, relationships, sexuality, money, work, body, and spirituality. They understand how to manifest their visions with strong affirmations and visualizations, and they understand how to work on their growing edges as they continue to master the art of creating the life that they really want for themselves.
Undoubtedly, the married girls and women in this program are truly on their way to a new kind of advocacy – one that emerges from the results of their empowered lives and thriving enterprises. Watch out for these phenomenal girls and women who are not only survivors of child marriage but girls and women who are truly empowered from the inside out and manifest their SWAG through Empowerment!