Help end early and forced marriage, a practice that is harmful to a girl's health and well-being. Association for the Promotion of Girls' and Women's Rights (APAD) empowers survivors of early and forced marriage in the Extreme North region of Cameroon, Africa, and educates communities about the intrinsic human rights of girls, including the right to choose when and whom to marry. Led by young women who escaped or avoided forced marriage, APAD is the only organization of its kind in the region.
In Cameroon, an estimated 47% of girls under 18 are married - usually against their will - because they are seen as an economic burden to their families.These girls often remain in poverty because they leave school to marry and have no access to income-generating opportunities. They are more likely to be victims of domestic and sexual violence; highly vulnerable to sexually transmitted infections, including HIV; and face a high risk of complications, even death, during pregnancy and childbirth.
Through community outreach, APAD works to prevent forced marriage by changing cultural values. APAD collaborates with religious and traditional leaders, educates parents on the consequences of forcibly marrying off their daughters and encourages them to keep girls in school, and empowers survivors to tell their stories and demand change. APAD also teaches girls sewing skills to promote economic independence, and intervenes with families to stop marriages before they occur.
Each year APAD reaches over 5,000 women, girls and men through community outreach activities and educates 150 survivors about their fundamental human rights. APAD has directly prevented dozens of forced marriages and indirectly many more. By enabling survivors to finish school and become self-sufficient women who make informed decisions about their lives, APAD is breaking the cycle of early and forced marriage.