Weddings are supposed to be one of the happiest days of a woman’s life, but every year, 12 million underage girls are forced into marriage.
These girls face a higher risk of domestic abuse and early illness, and the practice robs them of their right to choose how they would like to live their lives. Marriage should only exist between two consenting adults, but one in five girls across the world will be forced to marry before she turns 18.
Luckily, hundreds of men and women are working tirelessly across the globe to help end this practice, protect girls and help them fulfill their potential.
If you want to make a difference this International Women’s Day, here are a few great charities that are working to end child marriage.
Brides do Good
Brides do Good is a London-based bridal boutique that donates a portion of all sales to its partner charities Plan International and Too Young to Wed, who in turn help in the United Nations’ mission to end child marriage by 2030.
All dresses are exquisite pre-loved designer gowns donated by former brides who want to make a difference. The store carries dresses from the most exclusive of bridal designers, such as Elie Saab, Ian Stuart, Galia Lahav, Suzanne Neville, Reem Acra, Vera Wang, Monique Lhuillier, Peter Langner, Pronovias, Marchesa, Stewart Parvin, Rosa Clara, Valentino, and Sassi Holford.
You can visit their website to see what dresses they currently have for sale, or you can even donate your dress to help the cause.
Girls Not Brides
Girls Not Brides is a fantastic online resource that explains how, where and why child marriage happens. It helps bust myths about child marriage and is regularly updated with news and developments about the issue from across the world.
It also has a really handy Take Action page that gives you lots of different options on how to help the charity and their cause.
VOW is a charity that helps couples give back while planning their wedding day. You can align your wedding registry with VOW, which means that a percentage of any gifts purchased will go towards VOW and their work to end child marriage at no extra cost to you or your wedding guests.
You can donate directly to the charity if you wish, or buy favours and gifts from businesses affiliated with VOW.
ActionAid works across many countries to lift girls and women out of poverty. While they do not focus solely on child marriage, poverty and instability is a primary cause of the underage marriage as families try to ease their financial burdens by having their daughters marry early.
Helping women and their communities out of poverty often sees a steady rise in the age of girls marrying in the area.
The ActionAid team work closely with the women they intend to help, and their website gives regular updates on their work and how you can help them achieve their aims.