Giving Compass' Take:

• The Kendeda Fund is working to identify and address the root causes of early and child marriages in South Asia and around the world. 

The Fund reports that the most successful interventions are when the women and girls are running the programs themselves. That way, the community is accountable for keeping up sustainable programs. 

• Read about how education can serve as protection against child marriages. 

Since 2013, The Kendeda Fund has been on a philanthropic journey to address the issue of early- and child-marriage (ECM) so prevalent in South Asia and around the world.

When we started our girls’ rights and ECM work, we came into it with an assumption that change, to be effective, lasting and true, had to be community driven and bottom-up. It is a value that cuts across all of our programs in one form or another. So why should it be any different in South Asia?

Reflections from recent trips to Nepal, India and Bangladesh, however, have helped this author see the community-driven change we want to support in a subtler, more nuanced light.

The best approach, we now believe, is a community-led model that addresses root causes of early- and child-marriage, including patriarchal beliefs about girls’ bodies and sexuality. But it is a model that is built by and for politicized collectives of girls, rather than merely collections of girls whose best interests are decided and advocated for in more traditional, predictable, top-down ways.

Three lessons learned help illustrate what I mean:

  • Talking about sex. 
  • Girls need the protection of law, but not always in the ways you might think.
  • Traditional definitions of honor can be challenged without destroying families and communities.

Read the full article about the root causes of early and child marriages by Dena Kimball at The Philanthropy Workshop.