The Knot Worldwide, global wedding technology company will continue observing International Day of the Girl Child on 11th October in support of the United Nations. The day is dedicated to raising awareness about gender inequality that is faced by girls worldwide, and to gather support to provide them with more opportunities such as access to education, nutrition, legal rights, medical care, protection against violence and forced child marriage.
2020 marks the third year for The Knot Worldwide’s association with VOW To End Child Marriage (VOW) and this year the company is expanding support across its global footprint of brands, including WeddingWire India, to bring the wedding industry together and collectively bolster their mission to end child marriage by 2030.
Dhanusha Sivajee, Chief Marketing Officer, The Knot Worldwide, said, “At The Knot Worldwide, we believe that a wedding day is one of the happiest days in one’s life. As the leading online wedding marketplace, TKWW is all about creating personalised wedding experiences that are special and personal, which is not the case with child marriage. Child marriage is not a decision a girl gets to make. It is decided for her and takes away her right to choose if, when and how she wants to get married.
“This year, we are excited to continue our three-year-long partnership with a brilliant platform like VOW and we aim to rally the wedding industry globally to reinforce and share our goal to end child marriage by 2030. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has found 21% of young women were married before their 18th birthday.
“This is a staggering figure that should make all stop and ponder. We believe that there is no time like now to spread awareness and make a real change on an important global issue that affects millions of young girls,” Sivajee added.
Across the globe, The Knot Worldwide brands will support VOW in its mission to end child marriage through content on their websites and social media platforms that is meant to generate awareness about the cause and also promote the message. All funds raised through VOW are invested in grassroots efforts to end child marriage through VOW’s granting partner, the Girls First Fund.
These grants support programs that work directly with girls and their communities. Ninety percent of the grants awarded through the Girls First Fund are to young women and women-led organizations.
To date, grants have supported 150 community-based organizations. WeddingWire India is supporting the cause by spreading awareness using its social media platforms as well as driving donations directly to VOW, to be used for its mission to end child marriage.
Ankur Sarawagi, India Country Head, The Knot Worldwide, said, “According to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) 2015-16, 27% of girls in India are married before they turn 18 years old and India continues to have the highest absolute number of child brides in the world (over 15 million). In fact, one in three of the world’s child marriages occur in the country.”
“In India, several families consider girls to be ‘paraya dhan’, meaning that a girl’s only purpose is to benefit her husband’s family and that when she comes of age, she has to be sent away for the same which means we should not keep them around for too long. When it comes to education, the sons in a family are given priority over daughters as they are primarily seen as caregivers to their aging parents and expected to assume domestic responsibilities.
“However, child marriage erodes basic human rights extended to children, particularly girls, and derails their lives and hampers their future opportunities. Hence, WeddingWire India, a part of The Knot Worldwide, stands with VOW to cease child marriage and injustice towards girls in India, and across the world. It is time that they get their equal share and we end this discriminatory inhuman practice,” Sarawagi added.
VOW’s granting partner, the Girls First Fund has championed several organisations across India that are facilitating necessary discussions, engaging the community to spread awareness of their rights, and equipping them with knowledge and confidence to succeed in life.
A women-led organisation, Gramoday Chetna Kendra manages a boarding school for girls in Chatra, Jharkhand, an area that is known to have the highest girl student dropout rates in India. The intent of this school is to ensure girls are enrolled and provided an education that transcends the traditional curriculum.
Girls admitted to the school learn to debate, develop public speaking skills, and participate in theatre and sports, amongst other things. With a stronger understanding of their rights and the knowledge of how powerful a tool education is, Gramoday Chetna Kendra has seen an increase in school enrollment and retention of girl children from the region.
Clay Dunn, VOW CEO, said, “With child marriage affecting more than 12 million girls each year and growing as a result of COVID-19, our diverse array of partners and advocates are critical to ensure that every girl is able to choose if, when and whom she marries.
“I’m proud to see our partners – from youth activists and major brands to celebrities, wedding professionals and couples who have aligned their wedding registries with VOW – joining together to take the vow to end child marriage,” Dunn said.