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Monday, June 17, 2024

UMANG: An Evidence-Based Gender-Transformative Program for Addressing Child Marriage

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UMANG: An Evidence-Based Gender-Transformative Program for Addressing Child Marriage

Child Marriage in India: A Complex Issue

In India, the practice of child marriage is deeply rooted in social, economic, and cultural factors, posing a violation of children’s rights with long-term consequences on their growth and well-being. The implications of child marriage extend beyond individual well-being and impact societal issues such as poverty, gender discrimination, illiteracy, and malnutrition.

Current Situation in India

The rates of child marriage in India have seen a decline over the years, with a steep drop from 47% in NFHS-3 to 27% in NFHS-4. However, the decline has slowed down, with rates standing at 23% in NFHS-5. Despite this overall decline, eight states in India still have child marriage rates higher than the national average. These states include West Bengal (42%), Bihar (41%), Tripura (40%), Jharkhand (32%), Assam (32%), Andhra Pradesh (29%), Rajasthan (25%), and Telangana (24%) (UNFPA, UNICEF, 2022; Gausman et al 2023).

Intervention Strategies

A review of child marriage intervention programs conducted by ICRW in 2011 highlighted key strategies that prioritize empowering girls with information, skills, and support networks. These programs also focus on educating and mobilizing parents and community members, enhancing the accessibility and quality of formal schooling for girls, offering economic support and incentives for girls and their families. Moreover, fostering an enabling legal and policy framework plays a role in addressing child marriage. However, there is evidence suggesting that the prevalence of child marriage is linked to a lack of autonomy and decision-making among girls. Families are also less likely to engage in child marriage if their daughters are employed (Malhotra and Elnakib, 2021).

Multilevel Approaches

Social norms and practices play a significant role in the prevalence of child marriage, such as the order of marriage among siblings, where daughters are often married off before sons of a similar age. This indicates that interventions to reduce child marriage should address the drivers at multiple levels using various approaches to understand how they reinforce each other. While community-level interventions are crucial, a comprehensive approach that considers individual, family, and societal factors is essential in combating the issue of child marriage (Rasmussen et al. 2021, Achyut et al. 2020, Nanda et al., 2015).

UMANG Program

The UMANG program is an evidence-based gender-transformative initiative aimed at addressing child marriage in India. By empowering girls, educating communities, providing economic support, and addressing social norms, UMANG aims to reduce the prevalence of child marriage and protect the rights and well-being of children.

FAQ

Q: What are some key strategies for addressing child marriage?

A: Key strategies include empowering girls with information and support, educating and mobilizing parents and communities, enhancing access to education, providing economic incentives, and fostering an enabling legal framework.

Q: Why is a multilevel approach important in combating child marriage?

A: Child marriage is influenced by social norms, individual, family, and societal factors. A multilevel approach is crucial to address these drivers and create sustainable change.

Conclusion

Child marriage in India is a complex issue that requires a multifaceted approach to address the underlying causes and consequences. By empowering girls, educating communities, providing economic support, and addressing social norms, progress can be made in reducing the prevalence of child marriage and protecting the rights and well-being of children.


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