#EmpowermentNotAge

#EmpowermentNotAge

What is #EmpowermentNotAge about?

The government is considering raising the minimum age of marriage for young women from 18 to 21, ostensibly to delay the age of motherhood, improve nutritional levels among young mothers and decrease maternal mortality rates.

Delaying marriages allows women to have more control over their lives. However, the #EmpowermentNotAge campaign takes a hard look at ground realities and evidence-backed research in order to examine whether policies which criminalise families are the best route to delay the age of marriage in young women.

The evidence clearly demonstrates that a focus on improving young women’s lives through better education, employment opportunities, safety from violence, and increased agency all directly contribute to delaying marriage. We know that if women have the opportunity to complete their education and earn money, they are less likely to be viewed as financial burdens that need to be married off at an early age. Educated girls have more power to negotiate their marriages with their families. 

We also know that early marriage in India is the result of several deep-rooted social norms, such as the belief that early marriage will save a woman from sexual violence, assure a lower dowry, prevent elopement and will protect her honour. 

Experts believe that these deep-rooted norms are unlikely to shift merely by raising the age of marriage. On the other hand, such a move will criminalise overnight the families of 56% of women in India who will likely get married under the age of 21 as per existing evidence, most of whom belong to the poorest and most marginalized communities.

#EmpowermentNotAge is a campaign that demands that the government should focus on creating positive incentives for young women and their families to delay marriage, instead of criminalizing them.

Read more: 5 Reasons Changing The Minimum Age Of Marriage Is A Bad Move 

How can you take action?

Experts have been repeatedly saying that an increase in age of marriage will not be effective in delaying marriages but will do more harm to young women and their families in India by criminalising them. Join us to alert  decision makers and influencers  about the potential pitfalls of such a move, contact the National/State Minister for Women and Child Development, the National/State Commission for Women and ask them to oppose this possible policy change! 

You can take action by sharing this campaign on your social media, alerting these decision makers , or by signing a petition. Find all the instructions below:

  • Amplify on social media

Check out our Social Media Toolkit with sample tweets, Facebook posts, Instagram stories and WhatsApp messages. Remember to use the hashtag #EmpowermentNotAge in all your posts!

Click on this link to directly send a tweet tagging key stakeholders in the issue!

  • Email  the National/State Minister for Women and Child Development, the National/State Commission for Women

You can easily find their email address online. Copy paste the relevant email address in a new email draft, and copy the text below to the body of your email and hit send!

Subject: Opposing the suggested increase in age of marriage from 18 to 21 for young women in India

Hello,

I am writing this email as a concerned member of society  to mark my serious concern with the proposed move to raise the minimum age of marriage for girls from 18 to 21 years. Such a move will not be effective in reducing early marriages, but instead will harm girls and their families by criminalising them.

Research shows that girls dropping out of school is a common reason for early marriages. Villages with no high schools have much higher rates of early marriage. COVID-19 has further reduced the schooling of girls and is fuelling early marriages. Focussing on positive measures such as education, reducing poverty, increasing employment, and empowering her, both improve a girl’s quality of life and have a much bigger impact on delaying her marriage. 

In 2015-16, 63% of young women were married before the age of 21. A majority of these marriages took place among the poorest 20% of the population, mainly comprising of Dalit, Bahujan and Adivasi families. Increasing the minimum age of marriage will criminalise these families, drive underage marriages underground and harm the wellbeing of girls. 

I would recommend these news articles as good reading material to get more information on the issue:

I urge you, as key decision makers and stakeholders,  to raise questions about this move that is being considered by the government, and demand that the focus should instead be on improving the education of girls up to Class 12, providing employment opportunities to women, and meaningfully empowering them which will delay their marriages.

Sincerely yours,
<add your name>

  • Call the National/State Minister for Women and Child Development, the National/State Commission for Women

Call the National/State Minister for Women and Child Development or the National/State Commission for Women or send them a voice note on WhatsApp, and use the script below to demand that the government focus on empowering measures such as girls education instead of increasing the minimum age of marriage for girls from 18 to 21 years!

I got to know that the government is considering raising the minimum age of marriage for girls from 18 to 21. I am calling you in order to express my concern with this proposed move. There is sufficient research to show that such a move will not be effective in reducing early marriages, but instead will harm girls and their families.

Girls dropping out of school is a common reason for early marriages. Villages with high schools have a much lower rate of early marriage. COVID-19 has further reduced schooling of girls and is fuelling early marriages. Focussing on positive measures such as education and reducing poverty, both improve a girl’s quality of life and help in delaying her marriage.  

A large majority of girls get married before the age of 21. Such a move will also criminalise these families. It will drive child marriages underground and ultimately harm the wellbeing of girls. 

Early marriage is a social issue and will not be solved using punitive measures. I urge you,a key decision maker and stakeholder,   to raise questions on this move that the government is considering, and demand that the government should instead improve education for girls and focus on empowering them which will not only delay their marriage but improve their well-being. Thank you!

  • Sign the petition

The Young Voices: National Working Group has drafted this petition opposing the move to raise the minimum age of marriage to 21. The Young Voices National Report was created after consulting over 2500 young people between the ages of 12-22 from 15 states of India, predominantly from marginalized communities, who will be impacted by this policy change. It was found that young people wanted to focus on the right to choose, education and social awareness, instead of a move to criminalise families. 

SIGN THE PETITION HERE

 


Remember to share this webpage on your social media to urge your friends and family to take action as well! 

 

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