2022 Annual Report | Full Edition



BANGLADESH report card


Impact Spotlight

how we made it happen

Plan International Canada is also working on projects to end child marriage in Ethiopia. As with the efforts in Bangladesh, the My Choice for My Life project teams work with


Karate Kid Adaya wants to be in the ring. She doesn’t want to wear one. Adaya* can probably do sitauke , ushiro-geri and hiza uke , but knowing these karate moves isn’t the only reason this 16-year-old girl from Bangladesh stands out. She has also become an advocate for stopping child marriage. After Adaya’s father lost his job two years ago due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she had to drop out of school because her family couldn’t afford the fees. During this time, she learned about the Combatting Early Marriage in Bangladesh (CEMB) project, and shortly after that, she discovered that her own forced child marriage was looming. “My family had decided to give me in marriage and hid it from me,” she recalls. “I told my mother that I was still a child, according to my age. I also informed the CEMB staff, and they came to my house and talked to her.” With additional persuasion from the local child marriage prevention committee, Adaya’s mother changed her mind.

Countrywide, 59% of girls in Bangladesh get married before their 18th birthday and 22% before the age of 15. When they’re forced into marriage, girls and young women have a higher risk of experiencing sexual and gender-based violence and health complications and death from childbirth and HIV/AIDS. They also tend to drop out of school and have fewer economic opportunities.

These numbers are from Bangladesh’s Bhola and Jhalokathi districts. • 14,370 out-of-school adolescents participated in sessions about sexual and reproductive health rights, girls’ rights and child protection. • 96,442 students learned about gender equality, girls’ rights, health and reproductive health rights, child protection and advocacy. • 1,030 fathers and mothers were trained on how to support girls’ economic empowerment and delay marriage. They shared this information with 103,200 other parents. • 1,667 education workers were instructed on how to report and respond to situations in which children are at risk of being forced into early marriage. • 29 meetings were held with government officials to help them improve their responsiveness to child rights violations, particularly child marriage. • 1,888 Kazis, religious leaders, matchmakers and marriage solemnizers were trained on how to prevent child marriage and support adolescents in avoiding an early marriage.

individuals, families and officials to shift attitudes. Together, we’re making a difference. A 2022 participant survey showed that some shifts were seen in year four of the project. For complete results, READ THE IMPACT REPORT Adolescents, especially girls, who said their parents have determined or will determine the person they will marry:


Girls perfecting their karate moves

Later, Adaya was able to help a friend who was facing a similar situation. “We warned [her guardians] that we would inform the local law- enforcement authorities, and so they cancelled the marriage and my friend was saved,” she says. Adaya, who is back at school, says the CEMB project is key to the story of her comeback. “I always wanted to learn self-defence techniques,” she says. “After learning karate through this project, I am more confident than ever.”

child marriages in one area, the Bhola District, are down 90% according to the local Kazi (marriage registrar).





Parents who said they would do something to prevent a child marriage from happening in their community:

AGE-OLD QUESTION (LITERALLY) Salamat has been working as a Kazi in Bhola for 30 years. He never used to check the ages of grooms and brides. Today, he does because he lives by a new motto: “No more child marriage. Go ahead with a dream in mind.” He credits his shift in attitude to the training he received from Plan International and local partners on child-marriage prevention laws, and gender equality and child rights and protection. Salamat recounts one story where he refused to marry a couple after discovering they were underage. He explained the legal age of marriage in Bangladesh to them. “[Being an advocate] has decreased my income, but I am doing something good. Child marriage is now 90% lower in my area than it was before,” he says.

29% 82%





*This is a pseudonym.

52 | 2022 Annual Report

2022 Annual Report | 53

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