Imagine turning 16 and your parents take you out of school to marry you off to someone you’ve never even met. What seems crazy to us, is a common practice in South Asian culture. Young girls are told their education was no longer necessary – their only job now is to be a wife, mother and homemaker.
Thousands of girls have similar stories in rural South Asia. Child marriage is extremely common. Girls are not given the opportunity to graduate from high school, consider higher education or choose a career, but are instead tasked with cleaning the house, fetching water and raising children. In rural India, women receive an average of four years of education and are often married in their teens.
These young women are dependent on their new husbands as the sole breadwinner. However, many of the men in these rural communities are alcoholics (one in five men drink on a daily basis in rural India, including Abirami’s husband). So while their husbands spend their $2 average daily income on alcohol, these new brides and young mothers are left with nothing to scrape together meager meals for themselves and their children. And children are often forced into child labor and child marriage to help support their family too, and the cycle continues!
But for all that is changing. Through local community workers, young women can join a program called “Women’s Transformation Groups.” These groups teach young women the basics of running a business – personal finances, creating business plans and so much more. Girls can even hone their vocational skills!
After completing the six-month program, these young women can apply for a micro-credit loan. This loan would provide the money needed to set up their very own business. As a result, we’ve seen families radically changed for the better.
Besides adding to their family’s monthly income, women with their own successful business no longer have to rely on their children to help carry the burden of supporting the family through poverty. Children no longer have to work and are not forced into child marriage. This gives children the opportunity to stay in school, thus breaking the cycle of poverty.
Our Women’s Transformation Groups have been empowering young women for decades. Right now there are 302 active groups, changing the lives of hundreds of women and children across South Asia. We need your help to impact even more. Would you help relieve the burden of poverty from children by providing a micro-credit loan to young mothers?