Girls and Goats.....

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Girls and Goats… unusual combination that is helping to stop child marriages in Malawi. Malawi has had one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world, with up to 50% of young girls being married off before the age of 18….many as young as 12 and 13. But Chipembere Development Foundation (CDF), in partnership with Rise Up, are empowering girls to speak up and stay in school as well as educating local leaders to create new laws to end child marriage. And they are getting a little help from goats. Yes….goats. You see in Malawi, goats are like gold and they are the most valuable asset a family can own. The more goats you have the wealthier you are. They use goats to buys supplies, pay for school and medical fees, or buy food for their family. Eighteen months ago, CDF created new laws within their local communities. If a father gives permission for his daughter to be married, prior to the age of 18, they are penalized… having to give up one goat. And that simple change has almost completely eradicated child marriages in these villages. Girls are now staying in school longer, early pregnancies are on the decline and young girls being exposed to HIV is way down. Such a cool winning combo! Taken on assignment for Photographers Without Borders

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Lee Bartran