No place for child brides in our world

Young ac­tivist Malala says ed­u­ca­tion is key to sav­ing girls from forced mar­riage

7 Days in Dubai - - FRONT PAGE - By Sar­wat Nasir @Sar­watNasir

The world must stamp out child mar­riages and pro­vide young girls with an ed­u­ca­tion so they can live a bet­ter life.

This was the message yes­ter­day from No­bel Peace Prize win­ner Malala Yousafzai, who told a con­fer­ence in Shar­jah that too many peo­ple in her home­land of Pak­istan, and other coun­tries, al­low the ar­chaic prac­tice to con­tinue.

The 19-year-old cam­paigner, who was shot in the head by the Tal­iban in 2012 for speak­ing out about chil­dren’s ed­u­ca­tion, said learn­ing is key to em­pow­er­ing young women to shape their fu­ture.

And she told the con­fer­ence how the is­sue of child brides is close to her heart be­cause of what hap­pened to a child­hood friend.

Malala said: “I re­mem­ber that my very close friend was forced to get mar­ried when she only 11. I re­mem­ber many young women re­ly­ing on their broth­ers and fa­thers for a liv­ing if they got di­vorced or if their hus­bands passed away – which is why I know that qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion for girls isn’t just read­ing books or pass­ing ex­ams.

“It’s em­pow­er­ment, free­dom and nour­ish­ment – it’s in­de­pen­dence and the abil­ity to stand on their own two feet.”

She added: “I can­not imag­ine my­self for a se­cond without an ed­u­ca­tion. We need to in­spire women to be be­yond lim­its – to do that we need women em­pow­er­ment.”

The UN Pop­u­la­tion Fund states that an es­ti­mated 17.4 mil­lion girls un­der 18 are mar­ried each year – that’s 47,000 per day. The prac­tice is most preva­lent in sub­Sa­ha­ran African coun­tries, with 75 per cent of girls mar­ried be­fore 18 in Niger. More than 66 per cent of girls are mar­ried be­fore 18 in Bangladesh and in India the fig­ure is 47 per cent, ac­cord­ing to the In­ter­na­tional Re­search Cen­tre on Women. Malala’s fa­ther, Zaiud­din Yousafzai, spoke to 7DAYS about his daugh­ter’s friend, who “sud­denly dis­ap­peared” from their home­town in Swat Val­ley. Yousafzai said: “Malala went look­ing for her and she called her sev­eral times. “Then, one day, we found out that she was forced into mar­ry­ing an older man. “This stopped her ed­u­ca­tion and she was forced to do many things she wasn’t meant to do at that age. “Child mar­riage is a prob­lem in parts of Pak­istan, other parts of Asia and Africa. “There needs to be an im­me­di­ate end to child mar­riage.”

CHILD BRIDE: A 15-year-old Bangladeshi girl pre­pares for her mar­riage to a 32-year-old man. Al­most a third of girls in the coun­try marry be­fore the age of 15

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UAE

© PressReader. All rights reserved.