Every day 15,600 children in India will get married. Almost half of girls in India will be married before the age of 18, and many will have their first child before they are 17. Child marriage perpetuates the poverty cycle and significantly increases the incidence of maternal and neonatal health issues and mortality. Our integrated interventions empower adolescent girls, prevent child marriage, help to delay conception and support young mothers.
Almost 50% of girls in India get married before 18 years of age and have to prove their fertility soon after marriage. Among married adolescent girls, 40.2% of all deaths are due to maternal causes. Mothers under 15 years old are 5 times more likely to experience maternal deaths and have higher neonatal and infant mortality rates than their 20-29 year old counterparts. Implementing an integrated intervention to change these social norms is the challenge.
Our project works directly with married and unmarried adolescent girls at the community level. A highly trained team of IHMP staff run Life Skill Education programs for unmarried adolescent girls to build their self-esteem, promote formal education and teach valuable IT skills. Girls who have already become child brides are enrolled in Sexual and Reproductive Health Education programs and receive free monthly health check-ups and iron tablets from nurses employed by us.
The project will eventually reach a total of 6000 adolescent girls in rural Maharashtra. The Life Skills Education program has been shown to result in measurable improvements in the girl's skills, self-esteem and self-efficacy, which all help to delay marriage. Married adolescent girls will receive better health care and improved reproductive knowledge, which will decrease the incidence of health issues associated with pregnancy and improve the health of their children.