Girls as young as 13-years-old in Niger who risk being forced into early marriage by their families are remaining in school thanks to GOAL school scholarships supported by the WFP.
Today 1,000 girls in the Mirriah district have availed of the Scholarship, delaying marriage and early childbirth in a country where maternal mortality rates are among the highest in the world.
In Niger, the average age for female marriage is 15.7 years, with 3-4 girls married before the age of 18, and 1 in 4 before the age of just over 15.
Poverty stricken families who cannot afford to send their children to school believe marriage will offer them a better future while increasing their social status. Through GOAL’s scholarship programmes, supported by the World Food Programme (WFP) 1,000 girls will further their education and reduce the financial strain on their families.
Water sources at school promote hygiene around meal times and sanitation after using the toilet. This facility not only promotes better hygiene practices, but tackles stigma around girls not attending school during menstruation. It has been proven that girls can miss up to a quarter of the school term during their cycles if sanitation facilities are not available to them.
Students are also provided with two substantial meals daily to ensure nutritional needs are met.
GOAL Niger created scholarships with schools in the Dogo, Gafati and Koleram communities. This programme has offered these young girls more than an education, it has given them hope for their future and saved them from child marriage.
So far not one of the 1,000 girls on the programme have married.
HERE IS SIRAYA’S STORY
Siraya is a 13-year-old girl from Labdo Mai Doki village, in the Mirriah district. If it wasn’t for GOAL’s intervention her parents would have ensured she married as they were not financially stable enough to provide the right care for her.
‘I am very happy to receive all of this support from GOAL that will improve my living condition and that of other girls my age. My parents had decided to give me to marriage because there are poor and cannot afford my expenses, but now they have agreed that I can continue going to school.’