The Sunchhahari RM Self Help Group, where issues of gender violence and early marriage are discussed.

Early marriage has deep roots in the Sunchhahari Rural Municipality of Rolpa, where it is common for children to elope and get married at an early age without the permission of their parents.

The practice of early marriage is seen frequently around this community, with many members being unaware of its consequences. It can lead young people to drop out from school, miss out on opportunities to develop life skills and opportunities for learning, and suffer health problems related to childbearing.

Before INF Nepal’s EDUCATE project began in Sunchhahari, there was no organisation that advocated for gender or child rights, nor was there any government program on such issues. However, as it has formed Self Help Groups [SHGs] throughout Sunchhahari, INF has also trained 30 Gender Focal Persons in areas relating to gender and early marriage. These women advocates have been made aware of the legal aspects of gender violence and early marriage, and have been mobilised in the community to help tackle these problems.

Dilmata, an active Gender Focal Person, stopped one case of early marriage in the community when a boy and girl around the ages of sixteen eloped. Dilmata invited the children and both their parents to a meeting, to talk through the personal and legal consequences of early marriage. Through this, both children were able to see the potential impact of the marriage and decided against it.

Social change is a slow and complex process, but by involving community groups and empowering local champions, INF hopes to see more lives changed, and a reduction in gender violence and early marriage.

Rolpa EDUCATE receives support from the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP).