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Programme

HER CHOICE is an alliance of four Netherlands-based organisations: Stichting Kinderpostzegels Nederland, The Hunger Project, International Child Development Initiatives (ICDI) and the University of Amsterdam. These organisations combine their efforts with 27 local partner organisations to combat child marriage in eleven countries. The programme runs from January 2016 to December 2020 and is implemented in partnership with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands: Bangladesh, Benin, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Mali, Nepal, Pakistan, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Uganda.

Goals and strategies

The long-term goal (2016-2020) is to support the creation of child marriage-free communities in which girls and young women are free to decide if, when and whom to marry.
The 6 intervention strategies are based on evidence, which shows that the most consistent results of targeting child marriages are achieved by fostering information, skills and networks for girls in combination with community mobilisation. Therefore, strategies focus on both areas:

Increasing girls’ control in decision-making

1. Investing in girls, their knowledge, skills related to Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) and participation in society: enhancing their comprehension of the negative effects of child marriage and of alternative options.
2. Keeping girls in school: improving access to formal education for girls by supporting girl-friendly schools and building knowledge through schooling in general, and on SRHR in particular.
3. Improving access to youth-friendly SRHR services for girls: improving health services and by actively referring girls to health workers.

Mobilising relevant community actors

4. Strengthening the economic security of girls and their families: creating and supporting women’s self-help groups with training and access to (financial) resources.
5. Transforming social norms and traditional practices: mobilising and supporting communities, including boys, men, women, leaders to promote girls’ rights and gender equity, to achieve gender equity in education, decision making, and access to services.
6. Creating an enabling legal and policy environment on preventing child marriage: supporting traditional leaders and (local) authorities to enforce national policies on preventing child marriage.

Learning and research

Central learning strategies that contribute to the long-term goal and to the strengthening of partner organisations are comparative and participatory research and capacity building.

Linking & learning forms an important element of the programme. The members of the HER CHOICE alliance all have their own fields of expertise. By working as an alliance they complement each other. Activities to promote linking and learning are realised at local, national and international levels. In order to share knowledge, experience and lessons learnt and to widen support networks.

Base-, mid- and endline studies will be carried out in all programme countries in order to measure results (outputs and outcomes) of the programme. After completion of the baseline study, countries will be selected where further operational research will be carried out.

Local ownership

HER CHOICE supports communities to take full responsibility for ending child marriage. Local ownership is the key factor to achieve sustainable results. Local organisations, community networks, women’s groups, schools and SRHR-services are the implementing actors who ensure that strategies are locally embedded. International and local partners work side by side to generate knowledge and good practice, to support networks and to build on local assets.

Photo credit second photo from the right: Millie Albon