Ending Child Marriage—With Help from the Wedding Industry

Hope Nankunda is fighting to keep young Ugandan girls in school and away from marriages until after they turn 18…

“Most of the challenges they share’ have a lot to do with sexual abuse, with being forced into marriage in exchange for food, especially in the lockdown,” said Nankunda, the founder and executive director of Raising Teenagers Uganda as well as a coordinator for Girls Not Brides Uganda. Nankunda and other advocates have found support from an unexpected source—VOW for Girls, a nonprofit that is backed by elements of the American wedding industry.

With 2022 expected to be a record-setting year for weddings those donations could be larger than ever.

VOW for Girls plans to boost its fundraising this week to try to persuade couples newly engaged on Valentine’s Day to plan weddings that include donations to help groups like Raising Teenagers Uganda. It will also ask wedding-aligned brands to pledge donations and other commitments toward stopping child marriage.

“We want to raise money, but we also want to raise awareness,” said
Hive CEO Jenifer Willig, whose social-media campaigns have drawn 143 million impressions and support from “Wonder Woman” star Gal Gadot and Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg. “People do not know that a girl gets married every three seconds in the world.”

From “Nonprofit Raises Money From American Weddings to Combat Child Marriage Globally,” Associated Press, February 16, 2022.