Delaying Child Marriage Through Community-Based Skills-Development Program for Girls

Child marriage forces girls into sexual relationships for which they are not physically or emotionally prepared. It can cause them to drop out of school and it limits their opportunities for community participation, including employment. A delayed marriage greatly improves a girl’s chances for a healthy, happy, productive life. And the benefits of a later marriage go beyond the girl: her children, family, community, and country experience better health, economic, and social outcomes.

Programs that elevate girls’ visibility and status in their families and communities, and build their skills and knowledge, have been shown to delay marriage in different parts of the world. However, in Bangladesh, where efforts to prevent child marriage have focused on the enforcement of laws and policies, little research exists on what approaches work best to delay marriage and why.

To help fill this evidence gap, in 2012 the Population Council and partners embarked on a four-year study to understand whether skills-building approaches to empower girls can delay marriage in Bangladesh communities where child marriage rates are highest in three districts in southern Bangladesh: Khulna, Satkhira, and Narail.