40% of Afghan girls marry before age 18 and miss out on education that can help them avoid a life of poverty, abuse, and infant and maternal mortality. Education and postponing marriage increases future earnings and greatly improves the lives of the girls and their children. Our Early Marriage Prevention initiative, approved by the Ministry of Education, effectively helps girls resist pressures to marry early and dropout of school. $500 is enough to provide a year's programming for 5 girls.
40% of girls in Afghanistan drop out of school before age 18, especially after age 12 and 13, when they start to enter arranged marriages. Those who do are more likely to suffer from childbirth complications, domestic and sexual abuse, high infant mortality and poverty. Causes of early marriage include: the exchange of women to resolve conflicts; bride prices that bring money into poverty stricken families; protecting family honor; and weak law enforcement.
Sahar's Early Marriage Prevention Initiative, developed with local school and community leaders and approved by the Ministry of Education, is integral to our long-term education and empowerment strategy. Trained female Afghan staff lead sessions and conversations with students, parents, and teachers about the value of staying in school and postponing marriage, the legal right to not marry until age 16, and how to address the many pressures to dropout and marry early.
Our goal: high-school completion for all girls in our schools. Every year of school increases future wages by up to 25 percent. If a girl receives seven or more years of education she will marry four years later, have 2.2 fewer children, and be much less likely to die in childbirth or be abused by a husband. Education starts a virtuous cycle in which these girls, their children and generations to come will all have better, more peaceful lives. We currently serve 500 girls; help us serve 10 more.