SDG: Goal 3 – Good Health and Well-being
Technology: Text Messaging
In Bangladesh, 66% of the girls are married before they are 18, 29% before the age of 15 and two percent before the age of 11. The legal minimum age for marriage is 18 (Unicef Bangladesh, 2018). At marriage, people use a forged physical copy of birth certificate or ID card in case the girl was below the legal age.
According to Plan International, a girl married before the age of 18, is more likely to become a child-mother, drop-out of school, and be trapped in a lifetime of poverty. “Child marriage has proven so difficult to tackle in the past because it is so deeply rooted in society” (Plan International, 2018).
The government of Bangladesh together with Plan International developed an app for marriage registrars to verify the actual age of the bride and groom. For areas without internet, often the remote rural areas, an SMS-based version can be used (Unicef Bangladesh, 2018). The app accesses the government’s database with the child identification documents. By focusing on the 100,000 marriage registrars the country might have a higher chance of combating child marriage than changing the whole mindset of the general population.
In the 6-month pilot, the app has prevented 3,700 child marriages. A trial period in five districts have been shown successful, and the government and Plan International roll out the app across the whole country (Plan International, 2018).
Banarji, A. (2018, May 14). This app could end child marriage in Bangladesh. World Economic Forum, Retrieved from https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2018/05/game-changer-phone-app-aims-to-end-child-marriage-in-bangladesh
Plan International (2018, May 7). Mobile app stops 3,700 child marriages. Retrieved from https://plan-international.org/news/2018-05-07-mobile-app-stops-3700-child-marriages
Unicef Bangladesh (2018). Early Marriage. Retrieved from https://www.unicef.org/bangladesh/children_4866.html