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POEMA - a project against early marriages

May 11 2023

(Feb 27 2023)

POEMA is an acronym that stands for 'Project for Opposing Early MArriages'. Indeed, despite the fact that the Vietnamese government has banned marriages before the age of 18 for girls and before age 20 for boys, the phenomenon is still widespread, especially in the isolated areas where GTV operates in northern Vietnam. Unicef data shows that between 2020 and 2021, 14.6% of women aged 20-24 got married before the age of 18 (1.1% before the age of 15). The proportion is much lower for men: 1.9% were married before the age of 18 and 0.3% before the age of 15.

The project will take place in Coc Pai (Xin Man district), a mountainous area in the north inhabited by ethnic minorities and among the poorest in Vietnam. The same Unicef analysis shows that marriages are more frequent in the mountain regions of the north (23.1% of women aged 20-49 married before the age of 18) and among minority ethnic groups (53.4% of H'mong women aged 20-49 married before the age of 18).

The phenomenon of early marriages is complex, with multi-sectoral causes including poverty, traditional-patriarchal culture, poor education, poor government control/sanctions, poor sex education. The consequences are far from indifferent for the individual and society: physical problems, maternal/infant deaths, psychological distress, violence, female subjugation, dropping out of school, perpetrated poverty.

With this project we hope, in the long run, to decrease the phenomenon of early marriage in Xin Man District and increase the number of male and female students completing secondary school. To do this, we aim to spread knowledge about children's rights, gender equality and reproductive health among the population.

In the coming months we will train a group of teachers and community leaders on current legislation, children's rights, reproductive and maternal health and the social consequences of early marriage. The trained teachers will develop a curriculum on these issues and coordinate monthly meetings in the 2 municipal secondary schools to raise awareness among students. Not only that, we will also identify students at risk of dropping out of school due to early marriage and establish dialogues with their families, who will also be supported financially. Finally, local leaders will plan meetings and events in 4 villages in the municipality where the information received during the training will be disseminated and where schools can participate and display the communication materials created.

Although the planned activities will last only 12 months, we are aware that projects such as this, which affect cultural and traditional aspects deeply rooted in the customs of local populations, need lasting and not spot interventions. This is why GTV guarantees a continuity that will go beyond the duration of this specific project. The very approach to cooperation that we have always adopted, based on community development that takes into account the whole of society and the environment in which it lives, will lead us to engage in the Xin Man area for many years to come.

In a few weeks, the project activities will begin, with trainings for teachers and administrators. We will update you shortly.

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