In Bangladesh, strong social norms on gender, sexuality, high fertility, virginity and early marriage prevail. Teenage pregnancy is directly related to the common practice of child marriage and social expectations to have a child soon once married.
Child marriage and teenage pregnancy violate the rights of girls and can have life threatening consequences.
When girls marry young and get pregnant they drop out of school. This compromises their education and development, resulting in low socioeconomic status, high levels of fertility and perpetuating the cycle of poverty.
Adolescent youth indicate that they feel restricted by the prevailing socio-cultural and religious norms in realizing their SRHR choices. With the Hello, I am program Rutgers is enabling young people in Bangladesh to break these harmful social norms and have more say in decisions about their future.
Positive role models
Hello, I am creates a supportive social and family environment in which young people can make informed choices about their sexual and reproductive health. Through a series of media and face-to-face programmes, role models will raise awareness on harmful practices like child marriage and teenage pregnancy. Alternative behaviours, attitudes, or beliefs will be shown and discussed.
These media and face-to-face programmes seek to encourage community leaders and parents to become more supportive of girls’ aspirations.
Ending child marriage
Replacing prevailing norms with alternative behaviour and attitudes leads to adolescent girls delay marriage and their first pregnancy. More girls will remain in school and finish their education. We aspire thousands of girls eventually being able to make their own decisions about their educations, bodies, marriage and motherhood.
The long-term goal of Hello, I am is to contribute to a society free of child marriages and adolescents pregnancies. A society in which girls and boys are equal, where girls and women heave the same rights and chances as boys and men.
Hello, I am builds on the success and experience of the Unite for Body Right (UBR) program. In UBR we address the three levels that influence young people’s SRHR: education, services and environment. Hello, I am will focus on the environment which needs more and continued attention particularly in the Bangladeshi context.
In Bangladesh we are working with BBC Media Action to create a series of media and face-to-face programmes in which role models raising awareness on alternative behaviors, attitudes, or beliefs and to provide support and advice breaking through sticky norms.
Hello I am is funded by www.IKEAFoundation.org with a €3.5 million grant for the duration of the programme (2017 - 2020). The IKEA Foundation is supporting Rutgers with this grant because they believe all children have the right to a healthy start in life and a quality education-rights which are threatened by early marriage.