A new feature at the Christian Science Monitor explores how young women are leading the effort to end child marriage in Guatemala, highlighting the Population Council's Abriendo Oportunidades project.
Supported by the Population Council, an international health and development organization, Abriendo Oportunidades provides safe spaces in indigenous communities where girls can discuss their futures and learn about their rights and reproductive health. It also encourages community leaders to promote girls’ access to school and discourage child marriage, key to reshaping social norms about girls’ value.
“The key is critical mass,” says Alejandra Colom, director of the Population Council in Guatemala. "That’s why we try to work with at least half the girl population in the community: because social norms are collective.”Ms. Colom says the messages are important because the girls, nearly all of whom are indigenous, are giving them in their own language and with cultural context. “They’re not just going to repeat what the law says; they’re explaining it in ways that make sense to people and parents and girls."