“Sometimes girls get married because they can’t afford basic things like sanitary pads, body lotion, and even pants. It is not their parents who force them to get married, they just decide to go for marriage because their parents can’t afford to provide for them.”
This is the plight of many girls across South Sudan, where early and forced marriages are still commonplace. The chances of girls dropping out of school are even higher as they reach secondary school due an increase in their needs. Many girls can’t afford to meet these needs and they see marriage as the only way out.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, negative practices that compromise girls’ education, such as early or forced marriage, are likely to shoot up due to school closures and increased financial strain on households. The GESS Cash Transfers are being delivered to girls across South Sudan to try to encourage girls to keep on learning and to return to schools once they reopen. For many, this small injection of cash might be the only way out.
Sixteen-year-old Esther, who is in senior two in Juba Girls’ Secondary School told us how some of her classmates have been contemplating marriage during the pandemic, “Maybe some girls were thinking about getting married because they cannot afford what they need. With this money, they will buy what they need and also wait for schools to reopen so that they can go back”. Esther says the Cash Transfer will help her and many of her friends to stay busy in anticipation of schools reopening.
Esther, a six times’ beneficiary of the GESS Cash Transfer, shares her excitement about the money being paid around this time of COVID-19. She is happy because she will be able to buy items like pads and give some money to her mother to take care of other family needs. She says this will keep her focused on returning to school once it reopens, so she can continue learning.
The GESS Cash Transfers are meant to support girls throughout the pandemic and school closures, keeping them focused on returning to school and to supporting their families to respond to the financial pressures of the pandemic.
As well as delivering Cash Transfers, we are rebroadcasting Our School radio programmes that discourage early and forced marriage. To listen to a selection of our radio programmes, including one named, ‘Effects of Forced Marriage’, visit our website: https://girlseducationsouthsudan.org/radio-programmes/
Tags: Cash Transfers, Development, DFID, education, GESS, girls' education, South Sudan, UKaid