In India, many young women, especially those from underprivileged backgrounds, are subjected to discrimination and are forced into early marriage without the opportunity to complete their education. Some important statistics that emphasize the plight of adolescent girls are:
- About 50% of all girls in India are married before the age of 18 years
- Adolescent girls are twice more likely to die during pregnancy than those in their 20s
- Adolescent girls less than 15 years are five times more likely to die during pregnancy than those in their 20s
- More than 70% adolescent girls report severe complications during pregnancy
- 70% of young women in India face domestic violence
- Girls with secondary schooling are up to 6 times less likely to be married before the age of 18 years
Over the last 38 years, Institute of Health Management Pachod (IHMP) – a non-profit organization – has been addressing the most pressing public health concerns of marginalized and disadvantaged groups in the country and has created a lasting impact on the lives and health of over a million people. IHMP’s major focus during the last 15 years has been on safeguarding and transforming the lives of vulnerable adolescent girls living in rural and urban slum communities.
For married adolescent girls, IHMP provides reproductive health services to reduce adolescent deaths due to early pregnancy, and prevent low birth weight among babies. Our work with over 30,000 married adolescent girls has resulted in a significant increase in contraceptive use, delay in the age at first pregnancy, reduced maternal and child mortality, and babies with low birth-weight. Additionally, IHMP provides life skills education to unmarried adolescent girls to empower them to make independent life choices, and prevent child marriage. Our work in this regard has touched the lives of about 21,000 adolescent girls resulting in a significant and measurable increase in their self-esteem, self-efficacy, and a delay in their age at marriage from 14.5 years to 17 years.