Too Young to Wed's mission is to empower girls and end child marriage globally. TYTW partners with Falling Waters Schools and Samburu Girls Foundation in Kenya to run ongoing sports programming which encompasses scholarships, rescue and reintegration, psychosocial support, and emergency assistance, keeping girls in school and preventing them from returning to child marriages. Playing football / soccer is more than a game for these girls; it is a pathway to safety, healing and leadership.
Every 2 seconds, a girl is married against her will. There are more than 700 million women today who were married before 18, including 233 million before the age of 15. Child brides are more likely to leave school early & experience poor health, sexual & physical violence, and injury & death from pregnancy. In Kenya, nearly 1 in 4 girls is married before her 18th birthday. Additionally, Samburu girls, whom this program benefits, are often forced to undergo FGM/C in preparation for marriage.
Playing soccer is more than a game for these girls. In this program, we work with our partners to improve the mental and physical health of team members. For girls who experience child marriage and gender-based violence, dissociation from their bodies is common and negatively affects their mental health. Soccer provides the girls an opportunity to be in control of their bodies, allowing them to be seen as powerful tools of joy for the first time in many years, rather than vehicles for suffering.
The Soccer Team consists entirely of former child brides. Excitement around the school soccer program further incentivizes education. Girls in school are less likely to be married before 18, and those who complete secondary education earn twice as much as their peers. This project will help steer girls towards future economic independence. It will also teach them pioneering mentorship and leadership strategies to share with other girls in their own communities during school breaks.