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Campaign on Early Marriage in Yemen. MDGs and Early Marriage nisha. Photo: Oxfam GB. Copyright: Women’s Studies and Development Centre, Women’s National Committee, Shima, and Oxfam GB. A brief background . Since 2001, Oxfam GB has been working towards ending violence against women in Yemen

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Campaign on early marriage in yemen l.jpg

Campaign on Early Marriage in Yemen

MDGs and Early Marriage

nisha

Photo: Oxfam GB

Copyright: Women’s Studies and Development Centre, Women’s National Committee, Shima, and Oxfam GB


A brief background l.jpg
A brief background

  • Since 2001, Oxfam GB has been working towards ending violence against women in Yemen

  • Our partners in this endeavour include:

    • Human rights groups

    • Lawyers, researchers and activists from various walks of life

    • Women’s organizations & networks like Shima

    • Women’s Studies Development Centre, Sana’a University

    • Women’s National Committee

Photo: Oxfam GB

Campaign on Early Marriage in Yemen: Process and Results


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To add to the existing efforts

  • In 2004, we initiated a process to develop:

    • A project to address linkages between poverty and early marriage

    • A campaign which will link local level activism with national advocacy processes against early marriage

Photo: Oxfam GB

Photo: Oxfam GB

Campaign on Early Marriage in Yemen: Process and Results


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The idea of campaign

  • Arose out of:

    • Debates and discussions involving Oxfam GB and its 11 partner organizations

    • Consultations with a range of actors including:

      • INGOs

      • Bilateral and multilateral organizations

      • Government

      • Parliamentarians

    • Two desk reviews

      • A mapping of early marriage in Yemen

      • A preliminary research on early marriage

Photo: Oxfam GB

Photo: Oxfam GB

Campaign on Early Marriage in Yemen: Process and Results


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The desk reviews revealed

  • Widespread prevalence of early marriage, mainly of girls

  • Al-Hodeidah is placed at the first and Hadhramaut at the 13th rank

  • Reason for prevalence included:

    • Poverty,illiteracy & lack of awareness

    • Culture and traditions

    • Desire to protect young girls and boys

    • Social pressures

    • Absence of legislation for minimum age of marriage

  • Need to develop nuanced understanding of reasons & linkages

Illustration: Oxfam GB

Campaign on Early Marriage in Yemen: Process and Results


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Why Link Early Marriage with MDGS

  • Close linkages between women’s and child rights and MDGs

  • Early Marriage is a barrier to the achievement of goal 3 (gender equality) and 5 (maternal health)

  • Early Marriage is a violation of child rights which are essential for the achievement of the goals 1-4 (related to poverty & hunger, primary education, gender equality, & child mortality), 6 (HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases) and 8 (global partnerships)

  • Early Marriage as a barrier to development and therefore to the achievement of MDGs

    • 48.7% of Yemen’s population is below 15 years of age of which over 50% girls are likely to be married before 18 years of age

    • If early marriage is not addressed MDG related to the goals mentioned above cannot be achieved

Photo: Oxfam GB

Campaign on Early Marriage in Yemen: Process and Results


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Research on Early Marriage in Yemen: Highlights

  • Prevalence:

    • Women: 52.1%

    • Men: 6.7%

  • Shift in the average age at marriage over three generation:

    • gradual rise from an average of 10.24 years to 14.70 years for women and from 20.97 to 21.54 years for men

  • Close linkages among survival of tribal system, joint families, endogamy and early marriage

  • Complex relationship between traditional gender roles and relations, and economic worth of women

  • Intersections with health, rights, education and livelihoods

  • Access to information, opportunities, social mobilization and facilitative structural mechanisms key needs of communities to change the practice

  • Communities desirous of change but hesitant in the absence of role models

  • Major threat to the campaign from religious powerholders

Photo: bilwander

Campaign on Early Marriage in Yemen: Process and Results


Research findings marital relations l.jpg
Research Findings: Marital Relations

  • Divorce, polygamy and remarriage :

    • Higher prevalence of divorce among women married early

    • More than one marriage by men married to women below 18 years

    • Remarriage of divorced girls accepted but extremely difficult, especially in Seiyun region

  • Sexual relations and health:

    • Experiences of wives below 18 years:

      • Unpreparedness for a sexual relationship and coercion into sex

      • Lack of information about sex, sexual and reproductive health and contraception

      • Lack of treatment of reproductive complications and STDs

Photo: Oxfam GB

Campaign on Early Marriage in Yemen: Process and Results


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Research Finding: Maternal Health

  • Maternal health :

    • 19% of total maternal mortality among women in 15-19 age group

    • Median miscarriage 0.8 among below 18 and 0.56 among over 18 years old women

    • 65% women do not receive any reproductive health services

    • Prevalence of fistula, anemia and malnutrition among young (expecting & lactating) mothers

Sébastien Carliez (ECHO)

  • Mental health:

    • Experiences of below 18 years old wives:

      • Poor skills and capacity to care for babies leading to anguish and anxiety among young mothers

      • Young wives feel sense of insecurity

      • Development of feelings of intimacy and affection gets affected

Campaign on Early Marriage in Yemen: Process and Results


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Research Finding: Education & Poverty

  • Poverty and Survival:

    • Early marriage implies:

      • No time for and access to opportunities to acquire life skills

      • Barrier to acquire economic, religious and social knowledge

  • Education:

    • Continuation in school delays marriage

    • Close connection between parents education level and daughter’s age at marriage – higher education, higher age at marriage

    • Links with dropout and decision to give up higher education

Campaign on Early Marriage in Yemen: Process and Results


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  • Positive Factors:

    • Advocacy efforts for a legislation to adopt 18 years as the legal minimum age at marriage already started by some organizations

    • Recognition of the issue in the civil society

    • Unregulated, mostly family owned media that is willing to partner provided the campaign brings benefits – financial, training, etc

Research Findings: Pros and Cons

  • Challenges in reaching women:

    • Social isolation or segregation and lack of mobility

    • Social pressures and fears related to girls single hood and morality

    • Traditional bias against women’s entry in the public space

    • Class specific constraints

    • Kin group based social affiliations – preference is given to women’s mobility within the kin group activities

Photo: Oxfam GB

Campaign on Early Marriage in Yemen: Process and Results


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Research Findings: More Challenges

  • Risks: Existing & Potential:

    • Gaps in commitment of the government

    • Gaps in programming capacity of partners

    • Inconsistent pace of the campaign

Photo: Oxfam GB

  • Threats from different interpretations of the religion, including, attacks from some imams and muftis who may feel threatened or see the campaign as Western

  • Different conflicting views about the issue within participating organizations

  • Exclusion of women or their low participation due to segregation and lack of mobility

Campaign on Early Marriage in Yemen: Process and Results


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Suggested Future Course of Action

  • Work towards MDGs together with initiatives to ensure compliance with the six commitments

  • Link advocacy to adopt 18 years as the legal minimum age at marriage and benchmarks to assess progress in practice change with the goal 3, 4 and 5

  • Link awareness raising about challenges like access to sex education, family planning, sexual health and so on that get further complicated due to early marriage with the goal 6

  • To achieve goals 4-6 develop specific interventions to prevent early marriage. Because in Yemen, early sex and pregnancy, and consequent challenges related to reproductive and sexual health are closely associated with early marriage.

Photo: midle-east online

Photo: Oxfam GB

Campaign on Early Marriage in Yemen: Process and Results


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