POEMA – Project for Opposing Early MArriages
Among the many causes contributing to school drop-outs in the rural context of northern Vietnam, one cannot forget the phenomenon of early marriages, especially for girls. In 2014, Vietnam outlawed marriages for men under the age of 20 and women under the age of 18. Nevertheless, Unicef data show that between 2020 and 2021, 14.6 per cent of women aged 20-24 entered into a union outside the family before the age of 18 (1.1 per cent 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 same analysis shows that such marriages are more frequent in the northern mountainous regions (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, 22.4% of Tay, Thai, Muong, Nung women, against 8.5% of the majority Kinh ethnic group). POEMA will take place in Xin Man district, Ha Giang province, one of the poorest in Vietnam, in the north of the country. It is a very isolated area with poor services and difficult internal travel. Almost 90% of the population belongs to ethnic minorities, engaged in subsistence farming and not speaking Vietnamese. Local public data report 559 early marriages in the province between 2019 and early '21, an average of 14 per year. The underage girls involved have an average age of 16 and almost all leave school just before or immediately after marriage. Given the prolonged closure of schools due to the Covid-19 pandemic, an increase in numbers and a consequent increase in dropout cases related to this phenomenon is expected.
PHASE 1 (COMPLETED IN MAY 2023)
1: Training course for 30 people from 4 villages (teachers, Women's Union representatives, Youth Union, health personnel, law enforcement, administrators) on combating early marriage, family law, sex education, gender equality. The 32-hour course is divided into 2 sessions led by experienced Vietnamese trainers.
PHASE 2 (PLANNED START: SUMMER 2023)
2: Training students from the 2 secondary schools in Coc Pai are trained on the effects of early marriage, sex education, gender equality through 9 monthly workshops and the creation of a library on the topics to which local residents and institutions will also have access.
3: Families of students at risk of dropping out of school and early marriage are informed, followed up and financially supported through awareness-raising meetings with parents, financial support (including school fees), distribution of agricultural inputs according to individual needs.
4: Raising awareness among inhabitants of 4 villages in Coc Pai on combating early marriage, sex education, gender equality through public awareness meetings and events.
The project aims to contribute in the long term in Xin Man District to:
- decrease the phenomenon of early marriages (target 5.3 Agenda 2030);
- increase the number of male and female students completing secondary school (target 4.1, 4.5);
- spread knowledge about children's rights, gender equality and reproductive health (target 5.6, 4.7)
News (in Italian)
- 27 febbraio 2023 - Inizia POEMA, un progetto per contrastare i matrimoni precoci in Ha Giang (FASE 1)
- 24 maggio 2023 - La Fase 1 del progetto POEMA è ufficialmente terminata!
- 20 luglio 2023 - POEMA - incontri di sensibilizzazione nei villaggi
- October 18th 2023 - POEMA gets to the schools
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