In Bangladesh, the issue of girl children being denied an education due to child marriage has long been a source of concern.
According to extensive research, parents of girl children in Bangladesh's poor rural communities see their girl children as a financial and social burden.
Multiple COVID'19-induced lockdowns have had a significant impact on the lives of lower-wage workers. Their sources of income were stalled. Due to these circumstances, they were forced to return to their villages in rural Bangladesh.
These low-income families have turned to rid themselves of one particular burden after losing their sources of income. This burden is the cost of educating and raising a girl child, as well as the dowry that comes during a late marriage.
These unlucky young girls are losing their youth, education, and health because of this.
To address the problem, the Amal Foundation, a local NGO, teamed up with IPDC, one of the country's most well-known financial institutions.
The NGO works on poverty reduction in rural areas and other worrying issues.
Both partners worked together to create a one-of-a-kind project to prevent child marriage: the IPDC Child Marriage Prevention Loan, powered by Amal Foundation, which began as a pilot project in March 2022 in the Bogra District.
The Child Marriage Prevention Loan (CMPL) is a conditional zero-interest microfinance loan that assists underprivileged parents in establishing long-term businesses if they match three criteria. The first condition being, only parents of a 12- to 18-year-old girl child can apply for a loan. Secondly, a girl child cannot be married before she reaches the legal age. Finally, the girl child must be educated until high school.
IPDC and Amal gather, evaluate, and approve loan applications according to the criteria. Following that, parents vow to marry their daughters off only when they have completed high school and are of legal marrying age.
Officials from IPDC and Amal Foundation then present the loan to the parents in front of their local communities. After the money is distributed, the Amal Foundation assists the parents in creating sustainable businesses. They also provide training in business management.
To begin with, these parents get a 30-day grace period. The Amal Foundation then collects weekly loan instalments on behalf of IPDC. They additionally conduct school assessments of the girls and keep track of the business. These funds are then employed to facilitate more loans for other parents who are interested. Through the CMPL, IPDC and Amal Foundation want to minimize discrimination in rural Bangladesh by providing sustainable income streams to underprivileged families.
This collective effort will result in the transformation of these girls from liabilities to assets and ensure education for them.