Project 3

Twenty-seven percent of teenagers in Bangladesh have given birth and another 6 percent are pregnant with their first child. Early childbearing amongst teenagers and pregnancy complications is more common in rural than urban areas. Additionally, it appears that even this discriminatory law has had little impact on the prevalence of early marriage in Bangladesh as it is estimated that half of women are younger than 18 when they marry. The lack of birth registration and lack of awareness of the detrimental effects of early marriage make enforcement of this law difficult. Women pay an unjustifiable price for discrimination, but they do not do so alone. The quality of our democracy, the strength of our economies, the health of our societies and the sustainability of peace — all are undermined when we fail to fully tap half the world’s talent and potential. Where women have access to secondary education, good jobs, land and other assets, national growth and stability are enhanced, and we see lower maternal mortality, improved child nutrition, greater food security, and less risk of HIV and AIDS. WJCC’s mandate to support faster progress towards gender equality is thus both morally right, and makes political and economic sense. We have much to do, but also great strengths to draw on. WJCC is already active in areas strategically important to accelerate progress for women. In 2010 and 2011, WJCC programmes in all regions of south west reported positive results in increasing women’s leadership, expanding women’s economic options, making women central to plans and budgets, and bringing women to peace resolution tables.

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