Protect 50,000 Girls from Child Marriage in Ghana

by Hats Community Empowerment Programme (HACEP-Ghana)
Protect 50,000 Girls from Child Marriage in Ghana
Protect 50,000 Girls from Child Marriage in Ghana
Protect 50,000 Girls from Child Marriage in Ghana
Protect 50,000 Girls from Child Marriage in Ghana
Protect 50,000 Girls from Child Marriage in Ghana
Protect 50,000 Girls from Child Marriage in Ghana
Protect 50,000 Girls from Child Marriage in Ghana
Protect 50,000 Girls from Child Marriage in Ghana
Protect 50,000 Girls from Child Marriage in Ghana
Protect 50,000 Girls from Child Marriage in Ghana
Protect 50,000 Girls from Child Marriage in Ghana
Protect 50,000 Girls from Child Marriage in Ghana
Protect 50,000 Girls from Child Marriage in Ghana
Protect 50,000 Girls from Child Marriage in Ghana
Protect 50,000 Girls from Child Marriage in Ghana
Protect 50,000 Girls from Child Marriage in Ghana
Protect 50,000 Girls from Child Marriage in Ghana
Protect 50,000 Girls from Child Marriage in Ghana
Protect 50,000 Girls from Child Marriage in Ghana
Protect 50,000 Girls from Child Marriage in Ghana
Protect 50,000 Girls from Child Marriage in Ghana
Protect 50,000 Girls from Child Marriage in Ghana
Protect 50,000 Girls from Child Marriage in Ghana
Protect 50,000 Girls from Child Marriage in Ghana
Protect 50,000 Girls from Child Marriage in Ghana
Protect 50,000 Girls from Child Marriage in Ghana
Sixteen-year-old Fahimmatu looks at her daughter
Sixteen-year-old Fahimmatu looks at her daughter

Hurray! We Are Half Way Gone (2,500 Girls are Now Free from Child Marriage in Ghana)

“Let’s Meet Fahimmatu”

This school year, our number of bonded girls who will never marry before attaining tertiary education has reached a whooping sum of Two Thousand Five Hundred (2,500) Beneficiaries.

It is very clear that child marriage causes school dropout or vice versa, it is clear that child marriage often means the end to a girl’s formal education.

 

Fathimmatu’s story

Sixteen-year-old Fahimmatu is one of the new girls saved from child marriage this school year. On the 10th of November, HACEP-Ghana team went to check on her progress. She was with her mother and six-month-old child on a mat outside their house, in the shade of a tree.

 Fahimmatu was staying with relatives in Bagurugu, a village under the Karaga District Assembly in the Northern Region of Ghana when she got pregnant. She was persuaded into marriage as a way to support the child. But her husband was not able to provide for the family. When one of our Community Child Marriage Prevention Volunteers of our Community Management Committee (CMC) found out, they intervened with the family. Realizing that the marriage was not a solution to poverty, we worked with the family to agree to have it annulled. Fahimmatu returned home with her child to live with her mother where she receives financial and material support from HACEP-Ghana. She is now back to school in Senior High School (First Year).

 “It was an issue of peer pressure,” Fahimmatu says. “My friends had boyfriends and I didn’t want to be left out. So I found a man. Later, I fell pregnant and decided to get married. But the HACEP-Ghana convinced me to go back to school.”

 “At first I thought it was a good thing to get married,” she continues. “But when the HACEP-Ghana told me about the importance of education, I understood them and decided to go back to school. I’m happy that I’m back home and going to school.”

 

 WHEN A GIRL GETS MARRIED, SHE IS OFTEN EXPECTED TO DROP OUT OF SCHOOL

Girls tend to drop out of school during the preparatory time before the marriage or shortly after. Her new role of wife or mother often comes with the expectation that she will take care of the home, the children and the extended family.

 

WHEN A GIRL IS OUT OF SCHOOL, SHE BECOMES MORE VULNERABLE TO CHILD MARRIAGE

Many girls aren’t in education because schools are inaccessible or expensive, or because parents don’t see the value of education, either because it is of poor quality or not seen as relevant to their lives. With few alternatives, parents often see marriage as the best option for their daughter.

Girls who have no education are three times as likely to marry by 18 compared to girls with secondary or higher education.

 RETURNING TO SCHOOL CAN BE DIFFICULT FOR MARRIED GIRLS

There are practical and legal obstacles on married girls’ way back to school. Girls who live far or have children to look after may not be able to resume their education. Sometimes, the stigma of pregnancy keeps girls from returning to school.

Some countries also forbid pregnant girls and young mothers from returning to school.

 EDUCATION IS A POWERFUL STRATEGY TO END CHILD MARRIAGE

Education can be one of the most powerful tools to enable girls to avoid child marriage and fulfil their potential. The longer a girl stays in school, the less likely she is to be married before the age of 18 and have children during her teenage years.

When girls have access to safe, quality secondary education, the benefits are widely felt. Educated girls develop skills, knowledge and confidence to make informed decisions including if, when and whom to marry. Being in school also supports the perception that girls are still children and are therefore not of a suitable age to marry.

 BUT EDUCATION ALONE IS NOT ENOUGH TO END CHILD MARRIAGE

We need to address the root causes of child marriage: gender inequality, poverty, insecurity, and the lack of economic and social opportunities for girls.

That’s why we all need to step-up and give girls the future they deserve. Thanks to your benevolent Support, we are re-writing history in Ghana.

Give us more support,  tell a friend to tell a friend to donate to HACEP-Ghana’s Protecting 5000 Girls from Child Marriage in Ghana so that when we look back at this amazing times we can all say we did it, we can all say we were part of history and God’s willing our grandchildren’s children will reap the benefits of the seeds we are sowing right now.’

 

ADVOCATING FOR CHANGE

Child marriage is a violation of children’s rights, putting girls at greater risk of dropping out of school, domestic violence and potential life-threatening health consequences of early pregnancy.

HACEP-Ghana is working to bring an end to child marriage throughout Ghana. According to our 2016-17 Project Communities Demographic and Health Survey, 46 per cent of girls in Northern Ghana are married before the age of 18. In early 2017, HACEP-Ghana was instrumental in supporting the Local Government and Traditional Leaders to set up Community By-Laws to ensure that no girl is married before attaining Secondary Education in the communities we work.

Since then, HACEP-Ghana’s work has focused on ensuring that this change is implemented on the ground. This includes working with religious groups to identify and annul child marriages, and with local leaders and communities to equip girls and boys with knowledge and skills to reduce the risk of child marriage.

 

 LOCAL LEADERSHIP

In Northern Region, traditional leaders and our community Management Committee (CMC) develop local decrees for their areas. To build support for the drive to end child marriage, the CMC’s consult widely with other local leaders and the police. They came up with revised rules that instate legal consequences for men who marry under-aged girls, while emphasizing parents’ responsibility to send their children to school.

But we admit there are still challenges. In particular, the need for financial support for families like Fahimmatu’s, who take their daughters out of child marriage but then struggle to pay school fees on their own.

For us, ending child marriage is just the first step on a journey to improve communities in Northern Ghana. “Our goal is to see young girls in the region dream big and explore the opportunities that education can offer”.  “We want to be known as the youth-led and youth-serving organization that changed things for the better.”

It’s been wonderful to have you as part of our solution to end Child Marriage in the Northern Regions of Ghana. Thank you for being an important part of our solution to END CHILD MARRIAGE.

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Child birth complications killed Fati at age 26. It was her sixth child after she dropped out of school at age 15 to marry Musa, who was 50 years.

Fati, was cajoled to marry Musah because Memunatu, 35, Musa's first wife, has had no child, after 19 years of marriage.

Despite Fati's protests, her father, a very good friend of Musa pushed her into it, to cement their old time friendship.

Three months after the marriage ceremony, witnessed by only a handful of people, Fati got pregnant and later gave birth to Musa's first child.

Soon, the second and third children came, bringing joy to Musa and Memunatu.

To Memunatu, Fati was not only a second wife, but also a house-help.

The two-acre yam farm, could not sustain the family, compelling Fati to engage in economic activities apart from farming to feed her children, her Husband and Memunatu.

She wakes up around 04:00 hours, prepares porridge to sell at Dambai-Zongo, where they live and does other menial jobs for people, before visiting the farm late afternoon.

By 1800 hours, she must get home and prepare supper for the family, bath her children before getting ingredients ready for porridge at dawn.

A few years later, the fourth and fifth children were born, with more economic pressure on Fati, because Musa and Memunati are now very old and could not do any meaningful work to cater for the family.

Fati turns to selling rice and beans, (waakye), which arguably, has bigger profit margin, so she could take care of the family. She carries the food to market centres and public gatherings on days that she is unable to sell all at her joint.

That’s where HACEP-Ghana End Child Marriage Programme caught up with her through our Community Child Marriage Prevention Watch-Dogs and her story was brought to the attention of our Community Management Committee (CMC) for Child Marriage Prevention and Child Brides Support Programme (CBSP)

At age 26, Fati, got pregnant for the sixth time but appears unhappy with it. She tells her friends, “I'm fed up. This is the last one; I can't be taking care of the children alone              HACEP-Ghanahelped her to opt for family planning after the sixth child.

But it was not an easy task getting her family and husband to agree.

We later realized that, Fati was forced to remove the FP method (Jadel) and became pregnant again, and then she was unable to do most of her usual household chores and her economic activities. Some of her children tried to help, but unable to sustain the family.

She was getting weaker by the day, weeks and months, we tried as much as we can with the community leaders to get her divorce and gave her Comprehensive Abortion Care (CAC) but to no avail. So we had no choice than to give her all the psychological, emotion, physical and spiritual support she needed to have safe delivery so we were there for her through the community volunteers and opinion leaders and were sending her in and out of the clinic.

In the seventh month, the pregnancy developed complications and she was rushed to the local clinic, from her food joint.

At dawn the following day we visited her and saw that her condition was so bad, and got referral from Bolgatanga Hospital to send her to Tamale Teaching Hospital accompanied by a midwife in the Ambulance, 30 minutes into the journey It was as if we were welcoming the sixth child but mother and child died upon reaching upon reaching Pigu, few kilometers to tamale

The sad end of Fati went round Tongo, sending shivers down the spine of many, including; other victims of child marriage, whose stories are yet to be told and reminds us all that, there is more work to do, as a father of eleven children sees nothing wrong sending two of his daughters, 10 and 13 years to the Capital (Bolgatanga) to stay with a bread baker and work as well as get married, and with you, we have no doubt that this it will be done.

The increasing demand for the fuel by city dwellers has kept girls between ages seven and 10 out of school, with many involved in the rather tedious activities of charcoal production, packaging and selling in market centers.

This they do, sometimes with babies strapped at their backs, a few (babies), not weaned from the breast, crawling and drifting in the charcoal dust, mostly half naked.

A 17-year old mother of two, married to a 45-year old farmer when she was 14, said they wished to be in school, but the charcoal business was helping put food on the table for their children and husbands. Our Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS, 2017) says one (1) in four (4) women, 27 per cent, married before age 18, with the frequency in rural areas.

In Upper East region of Ghana, four new cases of Child marriage were recorded monthly according to our short survey and interviews with girls, women and young people in the region including community leaders, so at the end of this year, we are going to launch the “End Child Marriage Now! It Takes Us All” An Aggressive Advocacy and Action Campaign in the Bolgatanga Municipality and surrounding rural areas in the Region.

 

It’s been wonderful to have you as part of our solution to end Child Marriage in the Northern Regions of Ghana. Thank you for being an important part of our solution to END CHILD MARRIAGE in Ghana.

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Girls who are forced into early marriage
Girls who are forced into early marriage

All too often girls in countries across sub-Saharan Africa can be married off an early age, trapping them in a cycle that is almost impossible to escape.

They can be held by poverty, sexual and domestic violence, and social stigma.

But a charity, Camfed, is working to keep girls in school, in the belief that education can be the best protection against child marriage.

Camfed works in Malawi, Zambia, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Ghana, and says child marriage is both a consequence of poverty and perpetuates it.

"Most child brides have lost one or both parents, and face a daily struggle for food," explains Angeline Murimirwa, Camfed's executive director for Africa.

"Elderly grandparents or other family members don't have the financial means to look after them, and often find themselves pushed to consider marriage as the best option for the girl."

 

LIFTING FAMILIES FROM POVERTY

In Africa, there are 125m child brides, with 39% of all girls in the sub-Saharan region married before the age of 18.

Although many families believe child marriage provides a financial benefit, it often only exacerbates the situation. In poor communities, any spare money is often spent on sending boys to school, as they are seen as having a higher chance of securing work, and don't face the same safety risks as girls on long journeys to school.

But that means families losing the earnings that could have come from keeping girls in school.

Women often reinvest their earning in their families, paying to educate their children, siblings and relatives, meaning one educated girl has the potential to lift her entire family out of poverty.

But when girls are married off their education usually ends there.

Many child brides hope marriage will provide the opportunity to go to school, however they typically end up falling pregnant soon after, or being kept at home to carry out household chores.

In sub-Saharan Africa, 75% of girls start primary school, but only 8% finish secondary school. A report from Unicef projected the number of girl brides will double by 2050 if no action is taken.

 

MARIED AT 12

Gloria - not her real name - was 12 when her father died, leaving her mother to care for 10 children alone. Living in one of the poorest provinces of rural Zambia, there were few options available for the family.

"I cried because I was too young to get married," Gloria recalled. "I did not want to. I did not understand the meaning of marriage. I was so scared."

After Gloria's wedding, she stopped going to school and instead had to spend her days taking care of the house and looking for work.

Six months into the marriage, Gloria became pregnant, and was forced to marry her husband's brother after her husband suddenly died. Routinely subjected to domestic violence, she miscarried.

A few years later, Gloria fell pregnant again, and was still carrying the baby when her second husband died, leaving her to give birth alone.

"I had no knowledge of how to deliver a baby. I delivered at home, and the neighbour heard me. That's when they came to help me."

Like millions of other child brides, Gloria was left trapped in the poverty cycle, having left school with no qualifications.

Camfed came to Gloria's aid, after hearing of her situation through its network of former students who had been supported through education by Camfed.

This alumni network, the Camfed Association, was started by Angeline Murimirwa, after she became one of Camfed's first scholars.

STRUGGLING TO PAY  FOR SCHOOL

"I remember wearing a torn dress to primary school, having no shoes and not enough to eat. I felt guilty when my parents sold maize to buy me school supplies and I used to wash dishes for the teacher just to get hold of a pencil," said Angeline.

Born in Zimbabwe, Angeline's parents couldn't afford to send her to secondary school, despite her achieving one of the best exam results in the country.

"Without money for school fees or clothing, I had no hope of going, even though my mother wanted me to."

Thats why at HACEP-Ghana, creating an enabling evironment for girls to complete thier EDUCATION at least tertiary thereby ensuring that they marry at an age-appopriate level and at a time when they are both physically and psychologically ready to marry a man of thier choice.

We cannot thank you enough for beign part of the solution to end Child, Early and Forced Marriages in Ghana and Africa at lare

If girls can get an education they can end child
If girls can get an education they can end child
Child brides can be forced into early marriages
Child brides can be forced into early marriages

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16 year old Anita used to work in the local chop bar as dish-washer and his face and arms were scatted with scars from the physical abuse and assault meted on her by her 56 year-old husband when she went to school after she got married to elder Kofi after she was betrothed to him at her birth. Growing up, Anita wanted to become a Community Development Advocate. Suprisgnly on her on her 16th birthday when she was expecting a decorated cake from her parents to share with her friends, instead she was offered a man as old as her father. 

Her youngest sister, Afia, was sent out to work as a maid in a wealthy family at Savelugu Township near her village Duko community when she was just 8-years-old. Their father had planned to marry her off when she turned 13, just as he had done with her sister.

But Afia took a stand almost unheard of in her traditional and Dagomba Muslim community. She said no.

 

“Of course, one day, we will all get married,” said Afia. “But not before 18, and not before my studies at the college or University is finished.”

 

The Strength To Say ‘No’

 

Afia and her friend Salma attend the 2017 International Day for the Girl Child Celebration which was organized by Girls Not Brides Ghana, a member of the Girls Not Brides Global Partnership to End child Marriage. The celebration took place in the community because it is one of the highest cases of child marriage in the in Duko Community in the Savelugu Municipality.

School run by the Government see an extremely low number of girls enrollment because the community does not value the importance of girl-child education instead they view the as objects of grooming for marriage. Protect 5,000 Girls from Child Marriage in Ghana has adopted the community to be part of our beneficiary, where girls will be supported with school materials and comprehensive Sexuality Education including the basic fundamental human rights, our mission is to improve the lives of girls by enrolling them in school and restoring their basic rights.

With your generous support, we now support the only 2 schools in the community with 150 girls to complete tertiary education; we have also created our Girl-Centered Empowerment Clubs to educate these girls about their rights, as well as to improve their leadership, communication and problem solving skills.

As part of the IDGC celebration, we held a Community Conversation alongside the event where the traditional, faith, opinion leaders, the Municipal Chief Executive and the entire community has unanimously declare the community a Child Marriage free community and that no girl will get married below 18 and not before attaining tertiary education
  
“For many of these girls, school is the only place where they are treated as a children. Even when they are with their families they are expected to work. They are treated as earners,” said the Municipal Chief Executive. 

“Getting them out of work and into school will no doubt empower these young girls to achieve their full potentials,” said the Assembly Member for the community. “Knowledge of their rights will give them the strength to say no to child marriage and complete their education.”

 

A Cycle Driven by Poverty

The Duko community has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the Savelugu/Nanton Municipality. Across the municipality, nearly one half (47 per cent) of women ages 20-24 are estimated to have been married before the age of 18.

There are national laws to prevent child marriage and punish those guilty of promoting it, including a Child Marriage Restraint Act. Yet only a handful of such cases have been registered.

In Duko, approximately 90 per cent of the total population lives in extreme poverty (less than $1 a day). It is estimated that a third of all families in the community live below the poverty line.

The desires for another earner, or for more children to send out to work, are driving forces behind the Municipals’ cycle of child marriage.

 

An Asset or the Whole Family

“The girls’themselves love to come to school,” said the Head Teacher of one of our beneficiary school, the girls’ Club Facilitator. “When a girl is educated she will take care of all of her children. A girl’s education is an asset for her entire family.”

Initially, Afia’s father was not ready to accept his youngest daughter’s decision. So Afia turned to HACEP-Ghana for support.

“My elder sisters were not ready to get married at that early age, yet it happened, thanks to

HACEP-Ghana but I am more determined than my sisters,” said Afia. “And I’m getting support from HACEP-Ghana’s End child Marriage Programme, our girl-Centered Empowerment Programme, and my school.” 

In the end, Afias’ father was convinced by his daughter and the pleas of HACEP-Ghana and the community leaders as well as her clubs’ facilitator and fellow students. She remains in school and will not get married until she is ready. She is even teaching her mother to read and write.

 

 

Awareness Creation in High Prevalence Areas; A Key to Sucess

On the 2017, International Day of the Girl Child, we joined hand with Girls Not Brides Ghana at Duko community (one of the communities with the highest rate of child marriage in the area) to call for greater efforts to end child marriage
Our theme for the event was “empowering girls: before, during and after crisis” and also called for the support of the Ghana government to step up investments to end child marriage in Ghana. 
We said there was an urgent need to prevent thousands of girls being forced into marriage in the next decade.
There is no more time for idle debates on this issue. We must take action now to eliminate child marriage, which violates girls’ rights and holds back development. That is why with your generous donations and partnership, HACEP-Ghana is holding ten regional stakeholder engagements on ending child marriage and we are demanding that the government invest in solutions to end the practice, including funding for the Ghana National Strategy on Ending Child Marriage.

Although ending child marriage isn’t just the responsibility of government: communities, traditional rulers, queen mothers, religious leaders, youth groups and women and girls themselves, we all have a role to play and with you we have taken a bold step and one of the simple yet innovative approaches in ending Child, Early and Forced Marriages and promote girls Rights.
Across the world, 15 million girls are married each year before the age of 18. In Ghana, one in every five girls will be married off before their eighteenth birthday, and in regions such as the Northern, Upper East and Upper West regions more than 40 percent of girls are married as children. 
Girls who marry as children are deprived of their fundamental rights to health, education and safety. Neither physically nor emotionally ready to become wives and mothers, child brides are at greater risk of experiencing dangerous complications in pregnancy and childbirth, contracting HIV/AIDS and suffering domestic violence. They will often drop out of school, trapping them and their families in a cycle of poverty.
“At its heart, child marriage is rooted in gender inequality and the belief that girls and women have less value than boys and men. It often goes unquestioned as a traditional practice that has happened for generations,” said Mrs. Aba. “Under the Sustainable Development Goals, Ghana has committed to ending child, early and forced marriage by 2030. It’s time we turn this commitment into action by taking bold measures to overcome the complex drivers of child marriage in our country.”
Child marriage has been shown to have a significant impact on the economies of developing countries like Ghana. A recent study by the World Bank and International Center for Research on Women found that the practice costs the global economy trillions of dollars.
To celebrate International Day of the Girl, members of Girls Not Brides Ghanaacross the ten regions are engaging stakeholders including the media on practical step to end child marriage in Ghana.
Girls Not Brides Ghana is a partnership of civil society organisations in Ghana who are committed to working together to address child marriage and enable girls to fulfil their potential. Its key objective is to work with government and other stakeholders to implement joint strategy to end child marriage. 
The partnership is celebrating the 2017 International Day of the Girl Child through radio activities, engagement with girls, drama series and stakeholder engagements in all the ten regions of Ghana

PREVALENCE OF CHILD MARRIAGE IN GHANA

According to the Demographic Health Survey (DHS) 2014, the regional prevalence rates are estimated as follows: Northern Region (39.6%); UW (37.3%); Upper East (36.1%); Western Region (39.2%); Central Region (29.5%); Eastern Region (27.5%); Ashanti Region (25.9%); Volta Region (25.9%); Brong-Ahafo Region (23.9%) and Greater Accra (18.5%). 
Child marriage disproportionally affects girls over boys: among boys aged 20-24 years, 2% were married before the age of 18, compared to 21% of girls. 

It never ceases to amaze us that such a simple, yet direct solution improves so much for girls in Northern Ghana. You are the reason why they now has a future, Education and their Rights, the effects are no doubts enormous as our project ripples and inspire a lot of young girls to stand up against Child Marriage and secure their future and Education. Thank you for being an important part of the solution to end child marriage in Ghana. 

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Hilda
Hilda

Despite the odds, Hilda wins her freedom

“I met other girls in similar situations like mine. We encouraged each other to work hard in school.”

August, 2017—The small Northern Region of Ghana has one of the world’s highest rates of child marriage: Most girls are married before the age of 18. Just 16 percent of girls complete primary school.

Hilda experienced poverty firsthand. After losing her mother when she was 7, Hilda and the rest of her family moved in with her widowed grandmother. Life in Nantong Village, a district in northern Ghana, was hard. A small plot of land located beside a mud-brick house rarely produced enough maize, pumpkins and soy to feed the family. Eggs from a few scrawny chickens did provide some income, but not enough.

Despite the hardship, Hilda was determined to attend school and transform her life through education. Back then, her dream was to finish secondary school so she could become a math teacher.

“My grandmother did not have the money to provide the food and clothing for my two sisters, my brother and me. I often went to school on an empty stomach with no notebooks or pens,” Hilda, now 18, recalls.

Hilda was a diligent student at Nantong Primary School who never missed class and showed exceptional promise. Her smile and sharp mind masked her day-to-day struggle with poverty and, unfortunately, her life would only get harder.

On her way home from school, a month after her 15th birthday, Hilda noticed a well-dressed, much older man standing under the shade of a Nim tree. His tone was familiar—that of a teacher sternly addressing a student.

The stranger was a farmer named Mr. Mohammed from a nearby village (Nantong-Kurugu), and he explained to Hilda his interest in finding a wife.

He promised to provide a better life for Hilda and boasted how he would provide her grandmother with a sizable cash payment in exchange for Hilda’s hand in marriage. Although Hilda knew she was too young for marriage, she was intrigued by the prospect of a reliable supply of food an55    d maybe even money for new clothes.

That evening everything was settled—Hilda would be Mohammed’s wife. Hilda knew that the money from the marriage would also benefit her siblings, so she put on a happy face and hoped for the best.

Although Hilda’s family gave their consent to the marriage, it was illegal. Ghanaian law prohibits the marriage of girls under 18, with penalties for violators.

A key challenge to eradicating child marriage in Ghana is the entrenched attitudes that accept the practice. Child marriage is closely linked to poverty, as very young girls in rural areas will often be married off to improve a family’s financial position. Early marriage not only deprives girls of education and opportunities, but also increases the risk of death or serious childbirth injuries if they have babies before their bodies are ready. Child brides are also at greater risk of domestic and sexual violence.

Married life for Hilda was difficult. She lived in an unfamiliar village without the company of her family and friends. Instead of going to class, she filled her days with cooking, cleaning, gathering firewood, and fetching water. Most days she also cared for Mohammed’s nephews and nieces.

Luckily, Hilda was spared the abuses that other child brides endured with support from HACEP-Ghana End Child Marriage with GlobalGiving. Still, she remained determined and went back to school. Each evening, she pleaded with Mohammed to allow her to renew her studies. Each evening he would say no. Soon, everything would change.

About four weeks after the marriage,  a group of eight village women noticed her situation and passionately a discussion something with Mohammed. They were part of a local women’s club supported by HACEP-Ghana End Child Marriage  program to increase the educational attainment of girls in selected districts in Northern Ghana. They had come to free Hilda from an illegal marriage so she could go back to school. In Ghana, mothers’ groups are instrumental in getting girls back to school.

Using bright smiles, laughter and the strategies learned from HACEP-Ghana's Community Conversations on ending Child Marriage, members of the mothers’ group convinced Mohammed—who did not want to be arrested and fined—to liberate Hilda.

A few months later, Hilda sat attentively in the front row of her favorite class, mathematics. Overjoyed with her return to school, she explained, “It is nice to know that somebody cares enough to want to help me. If it wasn’t for the HACEP-Ghana's mothers’ club, I would still be married with no prospects for continuing my education.”

Hilda’s desire to excel in school received a major boost in July 2017, when she received an invitation from the Office of the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection to be part of the upcoming women's award instituted t recognize outstanding girls and women who are contributing positively to the development of their communities and the nation. There, she delivered a speech on the importance of education in her life, and how HACEP-Ghana End Child Marriage Programme helped her gain the skills and education she needs.

 “Going to the Ministry has been a very good experience for me,” she told a crowd after returning from Accra. “I met other girls in similar situations like mine. We encouraged each other to work hard in school. The HACEP-Ghana program has boosted my confidence and is helping me continue my education.”

Today, Hilda is back with her grandmother and siblings, where she continues to study hard while inspiring other girls to stay in school and avoid early marriage. Now she has a new dream—to become the minister of education.

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Organization Information

Hats Community Empowerment Programme (HACEP-Ghana)

Location: Tamale, Northern Region - Ghana
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @hacepghana
Project Leader:
Abass Hamza
Mr.
Tamale, Northern Region Ghana
$66,756 raised of $500,000 goal
 
1,072 donations
$433,244 to go
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