Grandmother leadership training will be conducted with 60 Grandmother Leaders to empower them to promote girls' education and protect them from child marriage. The training increases grandmothers' knowledge of adolescence and their confidence to educate girls and their families about the dangers of this traditional practice and to take collective act to stop it. Training natural grandmother leaders is an effective and sustainable way to stop child marriage and promote girls' well-being.
Compared to other parts of Senegal, girls in Velingara are at greater risk of child marriage and they leave school at an earlier age. Marriage before 18 years of age is a deep-seated tradition and can be physically and psychologically harmful to girls and usually means they drop out of school. Most girls want to stay in school. But families, mainly fathers, are primary decision-makers on when daughters will be married and they see child marriage as a preventive strategy to avoid teen pregnancy.
GMP's approach targets those with power to stop child marriage. Empowered grandmothers can convince parents, especially fathers, and other community elders to refuse marriage for girls before they are 18. Innovative under-the-tree training of illiterate natural grandmother leaders, with participatory adult learning methods, challenges them to revisit this tradition and take action to combat it. 280 grandmothers who participated in past training have collectively blocked many child marriages.
Elders pass on harmful social norms like child marriage. Respected natural grandmother leaders exist in all communities but are often quite shy. When empowered they can have a big influence on families to prevent child marriage and change social norms forever. Increased knowledge and confidence leads to powerful collective action by grandmothers to pressure family and community members to abandon this harmful practice. Empowered grandmother leaders protect girls and promote their well-being.
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