Curbing Early/Forced Marriages through the Back2School Intervention

In June 2019, the Youngpearl Women and Girls Initiative, under the leadership of our Founder and CEO, Abigail Oseremen Okpebholo, implemented a transformative Back2School intervention in the Ovwian Aladja Community, Delta State, Nigeria. This initiative demonstrated Abigail’s unwavering commitment to improving girls’ access to quality education and dismantling barriers impeding their educational aspirations. The intervention provided 50 underprivileged girls from low-income backgrounds with essential educational resources, enabling them to return to school and continue their education unimpeded. It not only supplied crucial learning materials but also addressed deeper societal issues, creating a pathway for these young girls to break free from the cycle of early and forced marriages.
The Back2School intervention was meticulously planned to ensure that each of the 50 girls received a comprehensive set of educational materials, including textbooks, notebooks, school bags, stationery, uniforms, sandals, and other essential supplies. These resources are fundamental for the girls to fully participate in their education, eliminating the financial barriers that often prevent them from attending school. The initiative aimed to promote access to quality education for girls from low-income backgrounds.
A significant aspect of the Back2School intervention was its focus on preventing early and forced marriages, prevalent in many rural communities, including Ovwian Aladja. Poverty often forces families to marry off their daughters at a young age, resulting in girls dropping out of school and losing the opportunity to pursue their educational and personal aspirations. By providing these girls with necessary educational resources, the intervention directly countered the economic pressures that lead families to resort to early marriages.
To ensure sustained impact, the Back2School intervention adopted a holistic approach. Health education, including menstrual health management, was an integral part of the program. This education empowered the girls to manage their menstrual health with confidence and dignity, reducing school absenteeism linked to menstruation-related issues. Additionally, Youngpearl distributed reusable sanitary pads to the girls, promoting menstrual hygiene and reducing the financial burden on their families.
The June 2019 intervention was a resounding success. All 50 girls returned to school, equipped and motivated to pursue their education. The initiative significantly reduced the incidence of early and forced marriages in the Ovwian Aladja Community, with more families recognizing the value of keeping their daughters in school. The girls showed remarkable improvement in their academic performance, with many ranking in the top percentiles of their classes.
Youngpearl Women and Girls Initiative remains committed to expanding the Back2School program to reach more communities and impact more lives. The success in Ovwian Aladja has set a precedent for what can be achieved when a community comes together to support the education and empowerment of its young girls.
In conclusion, Abigail Okpebholo encouraged the recipients to take their studies seriously and dream big as education was the only way for them to realise those dreams. In return, the girls who received their Back2School packages were very excited and promised to take their studies seriously and aim high to bring change to their families and community.

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