Preventing child marriages in Azerbaijan

Photography credits: Francisco Anzola

Last year in July, the United Nations Human Rights Council adopted the first substantive child marriage-focused resolution calling for a strengthening of efforts to prevent and eliminate child, early, and forced marriages. According to UNICEF’s State of the World’s Children 2016, 11% of girls in Azerbaijan are married before their 18th birthday. Rates of child marriage are high in certain parts of the country and are the result of a combination of cultural attitudes, such as the importance attached to marriage and motherhood for women, and socio-economic factors, such as poverty.

In response to the UNHRC’s call for action, two members of the Azerbaijani child-focused coalition NGO Alliance for Children’s Rights developed and implemented child marriage focused activities and projects. Reliable Future Youth Organization, with the support of Youth Foundation under the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, is implementing the project ‘Awareness raising program on prevention early marriages’ until December 2016. The main aim of the project is to organize awareness raising programs for the children (mostly girls) at risk of becoming victims of human trafficking and early marriage. In the framework of the project, the implementing partners organised trainings and seminars for the members of state structures and NGOs, and for children and their parents from different schools in Guba, Xhachmaz, Gusar, Lankaran, Masalli, Yevlax and Mingachaur regions.

Furthermore, ‘Dan’ International Youth Public Union, with the support of the Youth Foundation under the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, organised a presentation of the results of the project ‘Say NO to Early Marriage!’. The project aimed to help to reduce early marriages, detecting infant and maternal mortality, preventing the decline in educational opportunities for girls, and preventing physical and sexual violence.