Building on AJWSs 15 years of experience supporting Indian social change organizations and three years of intensive work on CEFM with in-country staff and expert consultants, AJWS will invest $12 million to support approximately 50 grassroots, capacity-building and research organizations to address the root causes and drivers of CEFM. Performance targets include: approximately 10,000 people will receive training under this commitment and 30,000 individuals, measured through research, will demonstrate a change in knowledge or behavior as a result of exposure to awareness or advocacy campaigns.
At the community level, AJWS will identify and strengthen 57 feminist organizations that empower girls in Indian communities that are particularly vulnerable to child marriage, especially in Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan. AJWS will work with these organizations to increase awareness and begin to advocate about the lack of quality direct social services available for girls in their communities.
At the national level in India, through research dissemination and networking, AJWS will engage with Indian social movements such as womens and labor movements and support them in taking on the issue of child marriage. In India, the issue of child marriage is not explicitly addressed by the major movements for human rights. However, these movements can help bolster change because they address problems that make girls vulnerable to child marriage. These groups work to end poverty, combat gender inequality and increase access to sexual health information.
At the global level, AJWS will work in partnership with a range of stakeholders, including feminist community-based organizations, to influence the discourse and approach to fulfilling girls human rights. Rather than focusing solely on creating and enforcing legal age limits for marriage, AJWSs global efforts will work to ensure that gender inequality is recognized and addressed as the root cause of child marriage, and the control over girls sexuality due to patriarchy; poverty; and limited access to education, resources, services and information as key drivers of the practice. This work will be done by utilizing strategic research, assessing donor and civil society organizations priorities and flows of resources, sharing critical findings, and providing opportunities for local community-based organizations to discuss their approach in global spaces.
AJWS will also collaborate with its Indian grantees and with established research organizations in India to generate new data and insights on a range of topics (e.g. access to education and livelihoods of vulnerable girl populations and documentation of services such as shelter homes and residential schools for girls). AJWS will use this research to persuade other organizations to more effectively address the factors that perpetuate the practice of child marriage.
From January 2017 to December 2019, AJWS will invest $12 million to implement a multi-pronged strategy to support approximately 50 local organizations in India to confront the root causes of child marriage.
At the community level, local organizations will partner with resource organizations that can strengthen their internal capacity to begin to change community norms by creating positive re-affirming spaces that provide better gender equity-focused services for girls and young women to reduce their vulnerability to CEFM. Grassroots partners will demonstrate a shift or strengthening in perspectives, capacities and strategic focus to addressing and integrating CEFM and related issues into their ongoing work, approaching it from a root cause-focused, multi-pronged approach. All grassroots partners will operate programs that organize girls and young women, offer critical inputs on gender, sexuality and power relations and provide opportunities focused on at least two of the following: livelihoods, education, and sexual health and rights.
At the national level, AJWS partners will engage with and influence the social movements of which they are partespecially the labor, youth, health and womens movementsto examine the issue of CEFM. These movements will suitably integrate CEFM into their key meetings and advocacy priorities and will support the efforts of member groups to address child marriage. Local and resource partners will be able to represent ECM as a crucial issue in key spaces such as national conferences and policy meetings.
At the global level, through AJWSs advocacy, lead actors in the global CEFM space will acknowledge the root causes and consequences of CEFM and the benefit of adopting multi-pronged and empowerment-focused interventions that recognize girls sexual rights to address the practice. AJWS will use new research data to elevate attention to the flow of resources from donor governments and foundations to programs addressing CEFM and advocate for a shift toward an increase in the amount and effectiveness of funds going to feminist, community-level programs that seek to change social norms that drive gender inequality and CEFM.
AJWSs research strategy will enhance the organizations work across all levels. AJWS will underwrite multiple action-based research projects to engage key social movement actors, enhance and create evidence-based advocacy, and strengthen community-based interventions and the global fields knowledge on CEFM. AJWSs communications strategy will leverage critical research findings and influence key audiences at the national and global levels.
The recent adoption of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) marks the beginning of a new era. Gender is a central feature of the SDGs, is highlighted as a standalone outcome and goal (SDG 5) and is integrated throughout the agreement. Never before has addressing gender inequality been so integral to a global development commitment.
In order to advance gender equality targets, American Jewish World Service is joining a holistic coalition of multi-sectoral partners convened by No Ceilings, Vital Voices, and WEConnect International, focusing on three core areas of work: 1) Promoting Womens Economic Participation; 2) Addressing Violence Against Girls and Women; and, 3) Advancing Womens Leadership in both Private and Public sectors.
Child, early and forced marriage (CEFM) violates the human rights of roughly 15 million girls around the world each year. Many parents view child marriage as the key to obtaining future security for their daughters, often not realizing that girls are more likely to drop out of school, experience domestic violence or die during childbirth. In fact, childbirth complications are the leading cause of death for girls ages 15 to 19 in developing countries. Child marriage deprives girls of the freedom to make informed and independent choices about their lives and bodies, and its presence in a community usually indicates that women and girls face tremendous gender inequalitynot just in their families, but in society overall.
Since 2013, AJWS has provided more than $4.5 million to 50 local organizations working to end child marriage in India and plans to continue its multi-million-dollar investment for at least an additional four years. These groups engage adolescent girls and their communities to address gender inequality as the root cause of CEFM, and control over girls sexuality due to patriarchy; poverty; and limited access to education, resources, services and information as key drivers of the practice.
AJWS works with its partners in India to address CEFM with a theory of change that centers on ensuring adolescent girls have Four As: access to services and support; the availability of empowering institutions and structures; agency over her body and life choices; and aspirations that reflect her greatest potential. To fully implement our theory of change, AJWS partners with a broad spectrum of organizations that build influential social movements and also create safe spaces to empower girls through social, educational and job skills training. AJWS utilizes a synergistic strategy of programs, research and advocacy to confront the entrenched social and cultural norms leading to child marriage. With this strategy, AJWS is shifting how institutions at the local, national and global levels understand and challenge child marriage.