Prevent Child Marriage

Learn how education can break the cycle of child marriage for girls in India.

They say history repeats itself.

In many countries where Holt has programs, cultural norms and tradition have a strong influence over how parents raise their children.

In more patriarchal societies, many parents choose to educate their sons — but keep their daughters home from classes. Or, largely due to poverty, they may feel forced to pull their children from school at a young age to begin working. If a woman was married young, she may be more likely to encourage her daughter to marry young, effectively ending her education.

Culture and tradition can both be beautiful, positive guiding forces. However, our on-the-ground staff around the world say they often have to challenge local norms when encouraging families to educate their children — both boys and girls.

One of these families is Raj’s.

Slum community in Pune, India where Raj lives.

Raj outside her home, in the community where she lives with about 30 other families.

Soft spoken, kind and funny, 13-year-old Raj attends school in Pune, India with the support of a Holt child sponsor. In this area, our programs target girls’ education specifically and only girls have sponsors, but because Raj has a sponsor, her two younger brothers also receive free tuition.

Raj’s mother is 35. She was married at 14, and had Raj’s older brother at 15. Continuing with tradition, Raj’s mother wants Raj to marry next year, when she turns 14. However, if Raj is married, she will likely leave school — also ending her brother’s sponsorship. So for now, Raj’s mother has delayed her daughter’s marriage — not because she wants to keep Raj in school, but because she wants to educate her sons.

Holt child sponsorship home in India

Raj with her mother outside their home.

This is good news for Raj, who dreams of being a doctor and every year that she can stay in school, she gets one step closer to her goal. Holt’s staff is also counseling Raj’s family about the importance of education, and this may help keep Raj in school, too.

People like you and I can also help keep Raj and children like her in school, just by providing the school supplies and uniforms they need.

Holt sponsors support Raj's education in India

Raj with several of her schoolmates, also supported by Holt sponsors.

Holt sponsors send children to education-based summer camp

Raj at an education-based summer camp, which she attended with Holt’s support.

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