Updated: Feb 1
In spite of all of the challenges we faced, the world has shown once again what it’s capable of accomplishing even in trying times. We demonstrated that we can be a better and stronger world when we work together. If you want evidence, look no further than Students Against Child Marriage!
Though it sometimes feels like we have been working for a decade, our nonprofit just turned six months old. We’ve grown from a small team of several students to a 40-plus person team of youth leaders from across the nation.
In only 180 days, we’ve launched over 35 chapters around the United States, with three in other countries to advance our burgeoning international activities. All together, those chapters have more than 400 members who are dedicated to ending this human rights abuse and are taking action every day.
The Students Against Child Marriage mission comprises three central programming areas: awareness, advocacy, and research. Let’s see what progress we made on each of these fronts.
Awareness: Making Child Marriage a Household Issue
Simply put, child marriage exists because people don’t know it exists.
The vast majority of Americans aren’t aware of this insidious institution right in their backyards. This awareness deficit is the largest roadblock to change. That’s why we worked nonstop in our awareness campaign to increase the national profile of the United States child marriage crisis.
Our communications team has regularly authored blog posts over the past several months to better allow for an understanding of this issue, regardless of one’s background or education level. We break down complex research for everyone to understand.
And we further share this information across our rapidly growing social media channels. Through beautifully designed yet informative posts, we are putting filtering child marriage into Americans’ everyday feeds without using retriggering or retraumatizing content.
Advocacy: Tapping into the Power of Youth Activism
We created this organization to engage students in child marriage advocacy. Much like the rest of the country, America’s youth have been unaware of an abusive system that directly impacts them. We recognized the potential for students to push life-saving martial age reform legislation over the line to achieve key legislative victories. And we’re already making substantial strides in this pursuit.
Our advocacy team is having frequent conversations with lawmakers in each of the states featured in our strategic plan.
We are building off of the incredible work that organizations like Unchained at Last and the Tahirih Justice Center have accomplished in their previous legislative successes, in addition to breaking ground in new states. Not to mention the unprecedented levels of action our chapters have been taking—thousands of petitions have already been circulated, and our supporters are beginning targeted legislator email campaigns later this month.
Research: Making Information More Accessible
I founded Students Against Child Marriage after two years of researching this issue. But that research wasn’t easy. I encountered tremendous obstacles when trying to form an understanding of this complex subject.
Whether you’re a student, educator, lawmaker, or anyone else, nobody should be turned away from child marriage research because of barriers to information access. That’s why our research team has spent the past several months building the nation’s first comprehensive child marriage research library.
This project is nearing completion and will mark a new era of child marriage research and understanding. For too long, essential information related to this subject has been challenging to access, with a myriad of institutional silos housing information in disparate locations. No longer! Our research library will centralize this information and make research on this issue more accessible.
2020: An Encouraging Start to A Bright Future
A single blog post can’t come close to capturing the incredible initial accomplishments of Students Against Child Marriage these past several months. A single thank you to our selfless team of volunteer students, brave child marriage survivors, and experienced partner organizations would not scratch the surface of the collaborative effort that has allowed our nonprofit to thrive in its first six months.
We have a lot in store for 2021, and I want you to be a part of this movement. Joining us couldn’t be easier, whether you start a chapter, become a part of our national staff, or just take a single action. We will be the generation to end child marriage. Start 2021 off right by being a part of this change!